Green light for ANSTO's new nuclear medicine plant

ANSTO operator, Andrew Bowden in the new facility.
ANSTO operator, Andrew Bowden in the new facility.

ANSTO's new state-of-the-art $168 million Nuclear Medicine (ANM) plant has received a licence from the independent regulator and has begun supplying nuclear medicine to Australian patients.

Since April, ANSTO has undertaken limited manufacturing of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) from the new ANM facility, which will now move into full production of the lifesaving medicine.

Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), which is used in approximately 85 per cent of all Australian nuclear medicine procedures.

This nuclear medicine is used in hospitals and medical centres of diagnosis of cancers and heart disease, and helps better understand treatments for conditions such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Australians who have received SPECT and SPECT CT scans for the accurate diagnosis of various heart, lung and musculoskeletal conditions, as well as cancers, have benefited from this ANSTO medicine.

It is the world's most commonly used nuclear medicine, with tens of millions of patients needing access to the medicine around the world every year.

Depending on demand and supply, which fluctuates from week to week, ANM has the ability to meet up to 25 per cent of global needs.

The hot cells where the Mo-99 is produced at ANSTO.

The hot cells where the Mo-99 is produced at ANSTO.

"This is the most advanced and safest manufacturing facility for nuclear medicine on the planet today," said ANSTO CEO Dr Adi Paterson.

"This is a highly sophisticated manufacturing facility that will see the Shire contributing strongly

to health outcomes for patients across Australia, and the wait has been worth it."

"This facility will ensure supply of vital nuclear medicine for Australians well into the future, and also provide an opportunity for Australia to be a global leader in this industry and export to a global market.

"Nothing like this highly-specialised facility has ever been delivered in Australia before, and I thank everyone who has worked to make this a reality over a significant construction and licencing period.

"The staff at ANM have done a great job of ensuring the successful first limited production from ANM, and in achieving a licence, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them," Dr Paterson said.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, welcomed the new facility.

"ANSTO is one of the biggest employers in the region, so there are local benefits, but this new nuclear medicine facility will take the health benefits global," said Mayor Pesce.

"Through this new medicine facility, and projects like the ANSTO Innovation Precinct which Council are working on with ANSTO, we are helping to introduce hundreds of new jobs to the Shire, and strengthening our region's grip on the smart jobs of the future."

From early next decade, the waste produced by the facility will be treated on site at Lucas Heights using ANSTO's Synroc facility, which is also part of this project, and is currently under construction.

The waste will then be transported to a National Radioactive Waste Management Facility once it has been sited and constructed.

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