Jan. 27, 2023
You may have yet to hear about Targeted Alpha-Particle Therapy — or TAT.
Yet, its advanced applications in emerging cancer therapies may not only prove lifesaving for patients… but the rare and unique medical isotopes used in TAT may soon prove very, very lucrative to select uranium and rare earth mining companies that are able to recover these highly sought after elements.
Over the next several minutes, we’ll be exploring this emerging technology along with ways to invest in the companies that are positioning to lead the nascent medical isotope recovery market.
What is Targeted Alpha-Particle Therapy?
Targeted Alpha-Particle Therapy, or TAT, is a relatively new, highly-targeted approach to cancer treatment in humans.
While chemotherapy is a ubiquitous cancer drug treatment administered throughout the entire body — typically intravenously — in an attempt to kill off cancer cells, the chemo drugs themselves are not able to differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells.
That’s why the side effects from chemo can be so daunting and can include such things as severe fatigue, hair loss, infections, bruising and bleeding, and a whole host of other issues.
TAT, on the other hand, utilizes intense light energy, or lasers, to send alpha particles — which release enormous amounts of energy over a very short distance — directly to the targeted tumor site via a process known as Linear Energy Transfer or LET.
The radioactive isotopes — or radionuclides — used in TAT have an extremely short half-life… just long enough to provide a therapeutic dose to the patient but not long enough to cause undue damage to healthy tissue.
Example of Targeted Alpha-Particle Therapy utilizing radium-223 to attack cancer cells in bone marrow.
As illustrated above, the use of radium-223 to treat metastatic bone cancer relies on the ability of alpha radiation from radium-223 and its short-lived decay products to kill cancer cells.
And while the therapy is still in its infancy, there is hope in the medical community, and among cancer patients worldwide, that targeted alpha-particle therapy will prove highly effective in treating virtually all types of cancer and perhaps even lead to an eventual cure.
What are the specific isotopes required in the TAT process?
As you might imagine, the elements that make the TAT process work are extraordinarily rare.
In fact, as of now, there is no established supply chain for this set of isotopes.
The primary elements needed include short-lived radionuclides such as lead-212, actinium-225, bismuth-213, radium-224, and radium-223.
These are all daughter/decay elements of radium-228, radium-226, and thorium-228, which can potentially be recovered from uranium and rare earth metals mining process streams.
The biggest challenge, as it stands right now, is recovery as there are typically only tiny quantities of these elements available in the process stream — we’re talking gram scale here.
Yet, where there are challenges there is also opportunity as the pharmaceutical industry, at present, only requires milligram quantities of these isotopes for clinical trials and for the initial commercialization of Targeted Alpha-Particle Therapy.
Later on, gram/kg quantities will be needed for broader commercialization of the technology.
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What is the potential market for these isotopes?
Once again, due to the rarity of these elements, there currently is no reported price point for any of the radionuclides that are requisite for TAT.
In other words, this could be an untapped, multi-$billion market for select companies involved in the mining and processing of U3O8 — aka, yellowcake — and certain rare earth elements.
What’s the best way to invest?
At Daily Profit Cycle, our team is constantly on the lookout for these types of “hidden gem” profit opportunities… and our research into targeted alpha-particle therapy and the rare isotopes needed for the technology is only just beginning.
More than just an opportunity for wealth accumulation, we’re talking about an emerging medical technology that could potentially save the lives of millions of cancer patients in the years and decades ahead.
In terms of potential profit opportunities in the TAT space, our focus is on finding the top uranium and rare earths companies that are exploring a possible path to recovering these rare medical isotopes for potential sales to pharmaceutical companies.
Again, this could be a multi-$billion opportunity for the company, or companies, that are able to successfully recover these isotopes in the mining stream process.
Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE-Amer: UUUU)(TSX: EFR)
One such company that has announced its intention to explore the medical isotopes market is Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE-Amer: UUUU)(TSX: EFR).
While remaining relatively tight-lipped so far… Energy Fuels seems to have every box checked in terms of having the potential to capitalize on the rare-isotopes sector at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Already, Energy Fuels has established itself as the leading US producer of uranium and vanadium.
The company is also an emerging producer of rare earth element (REE) products where its work is helping to reestablish a fully-integrated US supply chain.
With a truly unique and robust portfolio, Energy Fuels has more production capacity, licensed mines and processing facilities, and in-ground uranium resources than any other US producer.
The company also boasts diverse cash flow-generating opportunities, including vanadium production, uranium recycling, and rare earth processing.
White Mesa Mill — Southeastern Utah
Perhaps most importantly, Energy Fuels owns and operates the White Mesa Mill, which is the only fully-licensed and operating conventional uranium mill in the United States.
Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill in southeastern Utah — the only fully-licensed and operating conventional uranium mill on US soil.
The mill — which has a licensed capacity of 8 million-plus pounds of uranium per year — is central to the highest-grade uranium mines and deposits in the United States.
Energy Fuels also produces high-purity vanadium at the mill.
The White Mesa Mill is considered to be a key link in the US rare earth supply chain given its ability to remove and recover uranium and manage the radioactive byproducts from rare earths ore.
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Applications in the Medical Isotope Arena
In its most recent investor presentation, Energy Fuels lists the medical isotopes market as something it’s interested in capitalizing on.
- Several isotopes required for emerging cancer therapies (“Targeted Alpha Therapy”) naturally occur in the White Mesa Mill’s existing uranium & REE process streams.
- We are evaluating the potential to recover radium to create a US supply chain for this critical element.
As noted earlier, the primary isotopes needed in the TAT process include short-lived radionuclides such as lead-212, actinium-225, bismuth-213, radium-224, and radium-223 — which are daughter/decay elements of radium-228, radium-226, and thorium-228.
Radium — which is present in all uranium ores — can be extracted as a byproduct of uranium refining.
Clearly, having the only fully-licensed and operating conventional uranium mill in the US is an advantage that could ultimately help propel Energy Fuels to a leadership position in the recovery of medical isotopes from uranium ore.
And it’s not just radium Energy Fuels may soon be targeting in this endeavor. The company states,
“…several isotopes required for emerging cancer therapies naturally occur in the White Mesa Mill’s existing uranium & REE process streams.”
A lot of these emerging targeted cancer therapies are currently in the human clinical trials phase… so the opportunities ahead for Energy Fuels may prove as varied as the cancer treatments themselves.
Time will tell!
Again, Energy Fuels has, thus far, given little indication as to the exact timing and amount of resources it plans to allocate to the medical isotopes opportunity.
Further announcements could come as early as this year, next year, or perhaps a little further down the road depending on several factors.
It’s important to keep in mind that the company’s core business is the mining, milling, and refining of uranium ore, plus other elements, for the clean energy sector.
In fact, the company was recently awarded a US$18.5 million contract to sell 300,000 lbs of domestically-produced uranium to the US government as part of the ongoing establishment of a strategic uranium reserve.
The reserve is intended to be a backup source of uranium supply for domestic nuclear power plants in the event of a significant market disruption.
And if you follow the uranium sector, you know that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission just certified the design for what will be America’s first Small Modular Reactor — or SMR.
SMRs represent a new clean power source that could revolutionize nuclear power generation in the US… eventually serving as yet another key domestic demand source for Energy Fuels’ uranium production.
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A Strong Balance Sheet
Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE-Amer: UUUU)(TSX: EFR) boasts a particularly strong balance sheet as compared to many of its peers in the uranium mining sector.
The company lists US$122 million of working capital, as of 30 September 2022, which includes:
- US$77.1 million of cash & cash equivalents
- US$11.6 million of marketable securities
- US$27.3 million of product inventory (worth ~US$44.1 million at current commodity prices)
- Investments in Consolidated Uranium (TSX-V: CUR)(OTC: CURUF) & Virginia Energy Resources (TSX-V: VUI)(OTC: VEGYF)
The company also has zero debt and has entered into a definitive agreement to sell three wholly-owned subsidiaries to enCore Energy (TSX-V: EU)(OTC: ENCUF) for total consideration of US$120 million.
Upon closing, the cash received is expected to fund much of the company’s uranium, REE, vanadium, and medical isotope business plans over the next two to three years without diluting shareholders.
Energy Fuels CEO Mark Chalmers added,
“…we continue to make progress on medical isotopes with major players in the space. If we can successfully recover radioactive isotopes needed for emerging cancer treatments from our existing process streams, we will have secured yet another opportunity to generate significant cash flows in the next 5 to 10 years…”
In other words, the company’s upper management sees the medical isotopes arena as a natural progression of its core business model that’s well worth exploring to the benefit of UUUU stakeholders.
Advanced cancer therapies — such as Targeted Alpha-Particle Therapy (TAT) — have the potential to revolutionize cancer treatments in the US and worldwide.
Expect to hear more and more about these targeted approaches in the years ahead as statistics accrue and as clinical trials are completed.
The progression of this subsector of the oncology spectrum is gaining upward momentum and is simultaneously creating an opportunity for companies that are developing processes for procuring the specific isotopes needed in TAT and other emerging cancer therapies.
We’ve identified Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE-Amer: UUUU)(TSX: EFR) as a potential future leader in this area of medical isotope recovery.
The company has already announced its intention to explore this emerging market through its own uranium processing capabilities and through newly-opened channels with major players in the space.
As noted, Energy Fuels is the leading producer of uranium and vanadium in the United States along with being an emerging producer of rare earth element (REE) products.
The company also owns and operates the White Mesa Mill in southeastern Utah — the only fully-licensed and operating conventional uranium mill on US soil. It’s a facility where certain raw materials can be produced from feeds that are naturally radioactive.
Those factors give Energy Fuels a distinct advantage over other uranium explorers/producers as the firm is directly involved in the critical aspects of uranium milling and refining.
I would not be surprised in the least if the company appoints additional personnel with medical isotope expertise to its board in the coming quarters.
Such moves would be a clear indicator that the firm is taking measures to significantly ramp up its efforts in this high-potential subsector of its core business.
In the meantime, you can learn more about Energy Fuels Inc. by visiting their corporate website here where you can also sign up to receive updates and press releases directly from the company.
As a side note, I have a close friend and fellow mountain biking enthusiast that’s battling stage 4 prostate cancer as we speak.
Luckily, or fortunately, I should say, since he’s doing all of the right things to prepare his body for the long fight — he’s doing amazingly well.
He’s also in line to receive his first series of TAT treatments in the coming months.
I hope to be reporting on the resounding success of those treatments shortly thereafter.
Editor, Daily Profit Cycle