Opening of new facility in Petten accelerates development of cancer treatments

Opening of new facility in Petten accelerates development of cancer treatments

08 December 2023


PETTEN, NETHERLANDS – After years of preparation, the FIELD-LAB facility in Petten, the Netherlands, has officially opened its doors on 7 December. This brand new facility will help accelerate the development of new nuclear medicines for the treatment of cancer.

Esther Rommel, representative of the Province North Holland, officially opened the facility with the push of a button, followed by a well-deserved toast with non-alcoholic bubbles, as it is a full nuclear facility after all. Maarten van der Weijden, Olympic and world champion in open water swimming, gave an inspiring presentation on his own battle with cancer and his achievements in and out of the water.

Vinod Ramnandanlal, Commercial Director at NRG|PALLAS, was very proud of this huge milestone. “The team, combined with the partners of industry and academia, did an amazing job. They overcame so many challenges and they made this happen today.”

According to attendee Andor Glaudemans, President Dutch Society of Nuclear Medicine - NVNG and Professor of Nuclear Medicine at UMC Groningen, this innovative facility can really help academic hospitals on a national level. “The limiting factor in the Dutch innovation and the Dutch clinical and research studies is the availability of medical isotopes. FIELD-LAB can really help with the production of large amounts of medical isotopes and the transportation of medical isotopes to the patients, so that he or she has access to the medicine needed. In the end, I hope there are no waiting lists anymore.”

Developing medical isotopes for therapy

FIELD-LAB was founded in 2018, with NRG|PALLAS taking the lead in forming a consortium comprising leading academic and industrial partners to speed up the development and market launch of new nuclear drugs for cancer treatment. The facility itself resides in a unique nuclear infrastructure, with NRG|PALLAS providing medical isotopes from their nuclear reactor and radiological laboratories for R&D purposes. Together with their partners, they cover the complete route of nuclear medicine development. From processing of isotopes for pre-clinical research to GMP production for clinical trials.

Karlijn van der Schilden, R&D Manager at NRG|PALLAS, has been involved in the development of FIELD-LAB as one of the initiators since the beginning. “We faced many challenges. I am accustomed to the hiccups associated with R&D, such as failed experiments. However, we also encountered challenges like Brexit, Covid, and global tensions resulting in a shortage of materials. It is then hard to keep spirits up, but through working together with our partners, exchanging ideas, and helping each other, we got through it. Hearing how we help patients inspires me. Then I know why I am doing this.”

Promising projects

Their joint efforts within FIELD-LAB have already led to several promising projects, such as the human pilot study with radiolabelled cisplatin. The first human pilot study (with 6 patients) is in its completion phase. Other important projects include the development of unique technologies for the production of the isotopes Lead-212 and Lutetium-177.  

Lutetium-177 has long been used to treat neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) and may now also be applied to treat metastatic prostate cancer. Lead-212 is a promising new isotope and is being used in research for more effective therapies for cancer treatment within the FIELD-LAB consortium. Production processes for Lutetium-177 and Lead-212 will be carried out at the FIELD-LAB facility over the next year.

Development towards personalised medicine

With this new facility, the development of new medical isotopes has been given a huge boost, says Van der Schilden. “With the FIELD-LAB facility, we can support a lot of research and clinical trials. I hope that so many more compounds will enter into phase I and phase II trials and that more and more treatments will be available for patients.”

Van der Schilden is very proud of this achievement, but she is also inspired for more, bigger and better developments. “It is great to see, that this milestone has been realised. But I already see the next steps forward. Not only implementing the processes, but creating new plans. Extending the building, extending our competences, so that we can realise our ambitions in ten years. We are on the right path and we want go even further.”

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