SA award for uranium cancer treatment
Johannesburg - South Africa's Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) was on Wednesday awarded $25m for developing technology to fight diseases like cancer using low-enriched uranium.
Low-enriched uranium is significantly less hazardous to the human body than the currently used highly enriched uranium, present in treatments like radiation.
The award comes at a time when the development of low-enriched uranium was in decline, causing an international supply crisis and unnecessary suffering for patients.
The US department of energy commended Necsa for producing the first commercially successful "medical isotope" using low enriched uranium. A medical isotope is a very small quantity of radioactive substance used in the imaging and treatment of disease.
Necsa's CEO Rob Adam said that this award was the culmination of many years of painstaking research and development.
The technology developed by Necsa enables these isotopes to be delivered directly to the site of diseased cells, which is different from external beam radiation treatment.
“This award is part of (the US's) commitment to developing a sustainable means of producing (medical isotopes) as part of a global supply network that does not use highly enriched uranium," the US department said.
Necsa said that further research would be conducted to use low enriched uranium in fuels and other commercial applications.