NSERC, CIHR support medical isotope research
OTTAWA – NSERC and the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have announced the results of the
Open Grants Alternative Radiopharmaceuticals for Medical Imaging
Competition. Seven projects are being funded across Canada by NSERC and
The two agencies are jointly providing a total of $5.4 million to seek
non-nuclear reactor technology alternatives to Technetium-99m, an
isotope commonly used in medical imaging procedures.
The funding competition was launched in June 2009, and 19 applications
were received. NSERC and CIHR are collaborating on this initiative
because supporting multidisciplinary teams of researchers from the
health sciences, physics, chemistry and engineering is viewed as the
best way to accelerate research in the quest to find isotopes that can
be used to replace Technetium-99m.
The winning projects that will receive funding are:
• University of British Columbia. Cyclotron-based production of
• Ottawa Heart Institute Research Corporation (Ontario). Rubidium-82 -
An Alternative Radiopharmaceutical for Myocardial Imaging (Rb-ARMI).
• University of British Columiba. Replacement of 99mTc-Macroaggregated
Albumin with Biodegradable 68Ga-Labelled Microspheres for Lung Perfusion
• University of British Columiba. Substitution of 99mTc-labelled Red
Blood Cells with a 68Ga-Labelled Polyglycerol for Cardiac Blood Pool
• Ottawa Heart Institute Research Corporation (Ontario). Iodine-123
labeled Rotenone for Myocardial SPECT Perfusion Imaging.
• McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont. The formulation and clinical
testing of I-123 Iodohippuran as an alternative to Tc-99m MAG3 for
assessment of renal function in patients with kidney disease.
• London Health Sciences Centre Res. Inc. (Ont.) Seventy-to-Ninety %
Reduction of Tc-99m Required for Breast Cancer Lymphoscintigraphy.
Under the leadership of Pamela Zabel, scientists at Lawson will be
proceeding with the validation and clinical testing of a new product
patented through Lawson’s Business Development Office, now a part of
WORLDiscoveries. The product is a modified Technetium-99m formulation
optimized for use in the diagnosis and monitoring of the spread of
breast cancer through a medical procedure known as sentinel node
In this procedure, a lymph node biopsy removes lymph node tissue and is
examined under a microscope to determine if cancer has spread from its
original site. This will allow for appropriate patient management and
will potentially eliminate the need to remove of all the lymph nodes
in the area reducing the risk and severity of the biopsy procedure.
Lymphnode detection is considered clinical priority for use of the
Technetium-99m isotope when a shortage occurs. The product typically
used for sentinel node imaging and detection is not of optimal size and
requires a filtration step that wastes seventy to ninety percent of the
radioactivity. The new Technetium-99m formulation that scientists have
discovered and patented exhibits optimal size for lymph node detection
and does not require filtration.
The funding, along with guidance from Health Canada, will assist in the
validation and clinical testing of this product as a safe and
efficacious product for Canadian cancer patients. The product may also
eventually prove useful as an alternative to other Technetium-99m
formulations used in other clinical procedures including liver, spleen
and bone marrow imaging.
Pamela Zabel, scientist at Lawson and assistant professor of Medical
Imaging at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University
of Western Ontario and Muriel Brackstone, scientist at Lawson and
assistant professor of Oncology at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry will
receive $541,339 over two years for their project, “Seventy-to-Ninety
Percent Reduction of Tc-99m Required for Breast Cancer
Lymphoscintigraphy.” This work will lead to more efficient use of the
isotope Technetium-99m during a shortage and will provide less waste for
breast cancer and other imaging procedures.
“CIHR is pleased to support researchers Zabel and Brackstone as well as
all the other successful applicants,” said Dr. Morag Park, Scientific
Director for the Institute of Cancer Research, part of CIHR. “Pursuing
discovery in this area will ensure that Canadians can receive timely
cancer screening and treatment services into the future.”Other projects
that Lawson researchers are successfully involved with include the BC
Cancer Agency and TRUIMF, and The University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
Lawson scientist, Mike Kovacs will work with the BC Cancer Agency and
TRUIMF, receiving $1.3 million over two years for the project entitled,
“Cyclotron-based production of Technetium radioisotopes”. This project
will determine if medical isotopes produced from cyclotrons are a viable
alternative to isotopes produced by nuclear reactors.
Lawson scientist, Gerry Wisenberg will work with The University of
Ottawa Heart Institute, receiving $1.1 million over two years for the
project entitled, “Rubidium-82 - An Alternative Radiopharmaceuticalfor
Myocardial Imaging (Rb-ARMI)”. This project will develop and test new
radioactive tracers for their use in diagnosing heart disease. It will
help to fast track production and distribution quickly across Canada.
Lawson Health Research Institute is the Research Institute of London
Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care, London.
Posted Nov.26, 2009