Wales acts to increase availability of radioisotopes

2018 12 11 00 02 7009 Atom Nuclear Lab 400

In an effort to secure the supply of medical radioisotopes, the Welsh government has announced plans to form a national nuclear medicine laboratory with its own nuclear reactor.

Under the initiative, called Project ARTHUR (Advanced Radioisotope Technology for Health Utility Reactor), a public sector national laboratory will be built in northwest Wales and serve as a global center of excellence in nuclear medicine, according to a press release issued on 10 January by the Welsh Government.

The new facility would supply medical radioisotopes to NHS Wales, as well as the other National Health Services in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The consequences of supply interruptions are significant, the release noted. "The temporary loss of isotopes from the cyclotron at Cardiff University's PET Imaging Centre impacted diagnostic scans for several diseases, especially cancers. A more general loss of supply would have a significant detrimental impact on patient outcomes and survival."

The project is a collaborative development between the Welsh Government's Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Economy. In a statement, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething noted that funding for Project ARTHUR needs to be secured from different sources, including the U.K. government.

"The scale of investment needed to bring Project ARTHUR to life is considerable," he said. "I am calling on the U.K. Government to cooperate in supporting our efforts, since this development benefits and supports future cancer diagnostics and treatment right across the U.K.

"Now is the time for decisive action and commitment. The implications of not acting will be counted in human lives and in long-term economic pressure on health services, through unsustainable health treatments," Gething added.

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