South Africa and Australia have partnered to deliver lifesaving nuclear medicines to heart and cancer patients worldwide in what the Nuclear Energy Corporation has termed an “exciting collaboration”.
Using radio isotopes produced in the Safari-1 reactor and Australia’s OPAL (Open Pool Australian Lightwater) research reactor, both nations are showing the way in nuclear non-proliferation by producing potentially lifesaving radio-pharmaceutical Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) on a commercial scale using an all-low enriched uranium process.
Mo-99 is primarily used for diagnosis of heart disease and cancers with an estimated 45 million people across the globe requiring this type of medication annually. Currently most of the global Mo-99 supply is produced in reactors fuelled by highly enriched uranium.
Replacing these supplies with medicine made in reactors fuelled by proliferation proof, low enriched uranium is an important contribution to global safety Phumzile Tshelane, recently appointed CEO of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA said.
“It is a milestone in southern hemisphere cooperation. We will work with Australia in utilising nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and the provision of nuclear medicine for the benefit of mankind.”