The official launch of FIELD-LAB took place on February 6, 2019 in Petten. The event was attended by representatives of its partners as well as the mayor of Schagen and the Provincial Executive of Noord-Holland. However different each background, all those present agreed on the main goal of FIELD-LAB: a truly unique collaboration to develop and bring new nuclear medicines to the market.
In the afternoon, Sander de Groot, senior program manager Medical Isotope Development (department of Irradiation Solutions) explained the set-up of FIELD-LAB to the audience as well as the requirements it needs to comply with. Clean rooms and additional hot cells will need to be installed to meet Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requirements, and the existing Jaap Goedkoop laboratory on site in Petten will be used as a main and first facility. Preclinical work can at this very moment be performed by facilities that are already there, such as hot cells etc. Over time, discussions on how to structure each collaboration/project have taken place with all partners. Karlijn van der Schilden, R&D Manager Medical Isotopes at NRG then explained the need for therapeutic isotopes by providing some insights into pioneering new radiopharmaceuticals and the co-development of opportunities with some renowned institutes such as the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) and Amsterdam UMC.
Karlijn van der Schilden
R&D Manager Medical Isotopes
It has taken NRG and its partners as well as other supporters including the local council and the Province of Noord-Holland many years to realise FIELD-LAB which has been a joint effort between the nuclear industry, academia and the political field. The realisation of FIELD-LAB will not only enhance knowledge on nuclear diagnostics and therapeutics, but will also add a significant boost to the local economy by creating employment opportunities in this region. Jaap Bond, Provincial Executive of Noord-Holland spent much of his time informing and convincing decision makers in governmental The Hague about the need for FIELD-LAB. He pointed out to his audience in Petten that Noord-Holland is an economically robust region, which contributes 21% to the gross national product of the Netherlands. Moreover, the province already provides shelter to many innovative companies; establishing FIELD-LAB would fit in perfectly. He foresaw a bright future for FIELD-LAB and added that he would like to see it occupy a similar position in the field of nuclear medicine research development and realisation as Seed Valley – based in the same region – has for plant breeding and seed technology which is exported to customers worldwide. According to Bond, FIELD-LAB offers the opportunity to “strengthen knowledge and take a step forward”.
The mayor of Schagen, Marjan van Kampen-Nouwen, emphasised the importance of oncological research and added that she was incredibly proud to have such an innovative consortium in her municipality. Alexander Strijbos who founded the Stronger Than Ever Challenge, a triathlon for (ex) cancer patients and their family and friends, talked about his personal motivations for doing so, whilst underlining the need for more cancer research and more therapies.
During the latter part of the afternoon, it was the partners’ turn to illustrate the importance and need for a consortium like FIELD-LAB. Renowned experts of the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital in Amsterdam , FutureChemistry, Radboudumc, Erasmus MC and the Foundation Preparation PALLAS-reactor (PALLAS) presented innovation projects and research showing the vital role of FIELD-LAB. The importance of FIELD-LAB is based in its ability to lead to project simplification, resulting in better and more effective communication between all parties involved, which will benefit the time factor as well as resulting in lower costs. Interviews with representatives of our partner organisations and more in-depth reports on the respective projects will be published on our website shortly.
Although the day outside was pretty grey, the general feeling inside was one of optimism and high hopes for what is to come. Without a doubt, FIELD-LAB will contribute to a high standard of care and possibly increasing treatment options for (cancer) patients all over the world, ensuring a bright future for all involved.
On the 3rd of February more than 2,6 million people in the Netherlands watch the NOS news at 8 p.m., which features an item on the growing number of cancer patients in the Netherlands.
The plans for FIELD-LAB in Petten are really starting to take shape and there are lots of people who can't wait to contribute to this special initiative.