Labs to produce new source of medical isotopes
VANCOUVER – The
Government of Canada has announced a $6 million investment to develop an
alternative medical-isotope production technology proposed by TRIUMF, BC
Cancer Agency, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization,
and the Lawson Health Research Institute.
The team will leverage existing medical cyclotrons to develop and
demonstrate viable production of Technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most
widely-used medical isotope and which gained worldwide attention last
year due to reliability concerns around the Chalk River nuclear reactor.
Thomas J. Ruth, senior research scientist at TRIUMF and the BC Cancer
Agency, is head of the proposal and said, “Together with our team, we
are pleased to have this opportunity to address the isotope question
facing all Canadians. This technology will take advantage of existing
infrastructure to develop and demonstrate the capability for
manufacturing technetium at multiple sites across the country using the
most diverse collection of commercially available cyclotrons.”
Recently, the technetium isotope has been the subject of a world-wide
shortage with the sudden and unexpected shutdown of the two
highest-capacity nuclear reactors capable of producing Molybdenum-99
(Mo-99), an isotope whose decay to produce Tc-99m is the critical
element of today’s global supply chain. These reactors have been
repaired and are back online, but uncertainty remains about their
The team will be developing a long-known alternative for producing
Tc-99m that uses particle accelerators called cyclotrons that already
exist in major hospitals throughout the country. By enabling regional
hospitals to produce and distribute this lifesaving isotope to local
clinics, widespread disruptions will be an issue of the past.
Ruth added, “We believe this technology, based on existing cyclotrons,
will enhance the reliability of medical-isotope supply for Canadians
and, when we are successful, can be commercialized for sale in other
The team, known as CycloTech99 because of the cyclotron production of
Tc-99m, brings together physicists, nuclear chemists, radiochemists,
pharmacologists, biologists, technicians, and clinicians from across the
country to answer the critical questions that remain to use this process
at a large scale.
The proposal was entitled, “A Collaborative Program for the Production
of Tc-99m Using Medical Cyclotrons”, and was submitted last July to the
Non-reactor-based Isotope Supply Contribution Program formulated by
Natural Resources Canada as part of the Government’s intention to lay
the groundwork for a more secure and sustainable supply of medical
isotopes in the future.
Other teams successful in the program are being led by Advanced
Cyclotron Systems, Inc., the Canadian Light Source, and the Prairie
Isotope Production Enterprise.
For more information, please see URL
TRIUMF is Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics.
Located on the south campus of the University of British Columbia,
TRIUMF is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of the
following Canadian universities, via a contribution through the National
Research Council Canada: University of Alberta, University of British
Columbia, University of Calgary, Carleton University, University of
Guelph, University of Manitoba, McMaster University, University of
Northern British Columbia, Université de Montréal, Queen’s University,
University of Regina, Saint Mary’s University, Simon Fraser University,
University of Toronto, University of Victoria, and York University. To
learn more, visit http://www.triumf.ca
Posted January 27, 2011