Nuclear medicine against cancer

Orano Med, the medical subsidiary of Orano, is combining biotechnology and nuclear science to develop a new generation of targeted therapies against cancer using the unique properties of lead-212 (212Pb).
Arcolab, Orano Med à Bessines-sur-Gartempe, France Tubes, Arcolab, Orano Med in Bessines-sur-Gartempe, France © Eric Larrayadieu / Orano

The properties of lead-212

Lead-212 is a very rare radioisotope that descends from thorium. Orano’s expertise in cutting-edge nuclear technologies has made it possible to develop a unique process for the extraction and purification of lead-212. This rare metal is the subject of much research and is used in promising new treatments against cancer, called Targeted Alpha Therapy (TAT)

Targeted Alpha Therapy

Targeted Alpha therapy (TAT) is an innovative technology combining 212Pb with diverse biological vectors (peptides, antibodies) targeting or binding to different specific cancer receptors or antigens. TAT has the property to selectively recognize and destroy cancer cells limiting the impact on surrounding healthy cells. This therapeutic approach is fueling the hope of the international medical community to move towards less toxic and more effective treatments for patients with limited therapeutic solutions.

Increased lead-212 supply capacity

Orano Med has increased fivefold its production capacity for lead-212 using thorium nitrate from Orano’s mining activities and has doubled the surface area of its Maurice Tubiana laboratory (LMT) at Bessines. This milestone is the realization of Orano Med’s commitment to produce radioisotopes in sufficient quantities and at a level of purity in accordance with pharmaceutical standards, to enable the development and marketing of cancer treatments.

Facilities that are unique in the world:

  • Laboratoire Maurice Tubiana (LMT) in France, which is dedicated to the production of lead-212 
  • R&D center in France at Bessines-sur-Gartempe
  • Domestic Distribution & Purification Unit (DDPU) in the United States, dedicated to the production of lead-212 for the North American market and to R&D development for cancer therapies.

Next steps for Orano Med   

Orano Med’s ambition is to develop a solid portfolio of cancer treatments combining the properties of Lead-212 with those of targeting vectors. To this end, a dozen developments are underway, either 100% Orano Med or in partnership with other biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies in France and internationally.

Orano Med will also increase its lead-212 production capacities as well as its manufacturing and distribution capacities of cancer treatments to reach a broad network of hospitals in the world.

  • Learn more about Orano Med’s portfolio of drugs

International recognition 

Orano Med’s work has already received several awards in the United States, such as the Clinton Foundation Prize and, more recently, the Best Abstract Price awarded by SNNMI, the American benchmark in nuclear medicine, for ongoing clinical trials in the development of a treatment for neuroendocrine tumors with its partner RadioMedix.

Orano Med in a few dates:

  • 2005: discovery of the process for extracting lead-212
  • 2009: creation of Orano Med
  • 2011: acquisition of Macrocyclics, a company specialized in the production and development of chelating agents for nuclear medicine
  • 2012-2014: first clinical trial of targeted-alpha-therapy with lead-212
  • 2013: inauguration of the Maurice Tubiana Laboratory (LMT) in Bessines-sur Gartempe, France
  • 2016: inauguration of Orano Med's 2nd unit at Plano, Texas (DDPU)
  • 2018 : Start of clinical trials on a treatment for neuroendocrine tumors
  • 2019: Orano Med extends its lead-212 production capacity in France and the USA
  • 2020: commissioning of the expanded LMT Laboratory and R&D center at Bessines-sur-Gartempe
  • 2021: Entry into Phase II of Alphamedix™, a treatment against neuroendocrine tumors.
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