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Australia’s Cutting-Edge Nuclear Medicine Facility

ANSTO has received a substantial allocation of Federal Government funding, marking a significant development in the effort to ensure the continued production of crucial nuclear medicines in Australia. At the Lucas Heights campus of ANSTO, the plans for a state-of-the-art Nuclear Medicine Facility were unveiled by the Minister for Industry and Science. This new facility will replace the ageing Nuclear Medicine Processing and Distribution Facility, which was initially established in 1959 for research purposes.

On a weekly basis, ANSTO plays a pivotal role in producing nuclear medicines that facilitate between 10,000 and 12,000 medical procedures across Australian hospitals and clinics. Over the years, ANSTO has expanded its production capabilities to encompass various nuclear medicines, making it the primary supplier of approximately 75%-80% of nuclear medicines used in Australia. Among the critical substances they produce is molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), dispatched into ANSTO’s Gentech® Generators. Mo-99 naturally decays into technetium-99 (Tc-99m), the most widely used radioisotope in nuclear medicine worldwide.

The Lucas Heights campus of ANSTO houses a nuclear medicine precinct comprising three key facilities: the OPAL multipurpose research reactor, the Molybdenum-99 Manufacturing Facility, and the ageing Nuclear Medicine Processing and Distribution Facility.

Alongside the Minister, the Acting CEO for ANSTO expressed his appreciation for the enhanced funding aimed at securing Australia’s sovereign capabilities in domestic nuclear medicine manufacturing. He emphasised that the new Nuclear Medicine Facility represents a critical advancement in the technological aspect of nuclear medicine production.

This purpose-built facility will establish a more sophisticated nuclear medicine precinct that streamlines the manufacturing and distribution chain. It is designed to provide ANSTO with the flexibility required to adapt to evolving manufacturing technologies and cater to the changing demands of the radiopharmaceutical market. This flexibility is especially crucial as the rates of diagnosis for illnesses such as cancer continue to rise. Moreover, the facility will empower ANSTO to meet the surging demand for nuclear medicines from hospitals and medical clinics while also capitalizing on ANSTO’s radiopharmaceutical research and development and collaborations within the medical industry.

The current facility, where the final production stage of most of ANSTO’s nuclear medicines occurs before dispatch, is an ageing structure originally constructed as a research laboratory in the late 1950s. Despite extensive renovations and modifications to transform it into a nuclear medicine manufacturing facility, it is nearing the end of its operational lifespan. The funding received will not only support the construction of the new Nuclear Medicine Facility but also facilitate the ongoing maintenance of the existing facility until the new one becomes operational, which is expected in the mid-2030s.

The Federal Government’s allocation of funds to ANSTO represents a significant technological leap forward in ensuring the continued production of life-saving nuclear medicines in Australia. The establishment of the new Nuclear Medicine Facility at the Lucas Heights campus is a critical step toward modernizing the production process, enhancing flexibility, and meeting the growing demand for nuclear medicines while bolstering research and development efforts in the field of radiopharmaceuticals. This investment not only secures Australia’s sovereign capabilities but also reinforces its position in the global nuclear medicine industry.

The Federal Government’s funding allocation for ANSTO’s new Nuclear Medicine Facility at Lucas Heights aligns with Australia’s tech goals by promoting innovation in healthcare technology, fostering collaboration within the medical industry, enhancing sovereign capabilities, and supporting research and development in radiopharmaceuticals.

It also ensures technological resilience, strengthens global competitiveness, and underscores the importance of long-term planning for critical technology infrastructure. This investment signifies the government’s commitment to leveraging technology to advance healthcare and bolster Australia’s position in the global technology landscape while addressing national security concerns related to nuclear medicine production.

OpenGov Asia reported that the Government of Western Australia is taking steps to promote the growth of small to medium-sized local businesses by offering grants totalling over AU$3 million. These grants are intended to enhance their capabilities and competitiveness, enabling them to pursue contracts from both the government and private sector.

Known as the Local Capability Fund (LCF), this initiative serves as a crucial resource for recipients looking to expand their capacity and improve their competitiveness in supplying goods, services, and works to the government, major projects, and other significant markets.


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