BC invests $15 million to produce
tracers for PET
For the first time ever, British Columbia will produce radioactive
tracers at a public facility for use with PET/CT scanners. PET/CT
imaging is widely regarded as the leading-edge technology
diagnosis, treatment and management of cancer patients.
“The Province is taking a tremendous step forward by establishing a
radiopharmaceutical laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency,” said Health
Minister George Abbott. “This new facility means that the Province will
be set up to independently produce a stable, safe and secure source of
radioisotopes used to perform PET/CT scans, as well as allow for future
expansion of PET/CT scans to other regions of the province.”
Radioisotopes are used to provide accurate pre-treatment detection of
cancerous tumours. Currently, the BC Cancer Agency’s Vancouver Centre is
home to the province’s only publicly funded PET/CT centre.
Having a cyclotron – a machine that produces isotopes – on site at the
Centre of Excellence for Functional Imaging at the Vancouver BC Cancer
Agency gives the unique opportunity to not only produce
radiopharmaceuticals, but also develop new radiotracers to explore the
basic biology of cancer.
This is a very powerful research tool that allows for greater
understanding of cancer biology. The cyclotron will help the BC Cancer
Agency to translate research discoveries into clinical practice as
quickly as possible, thereby improving patient outcomes and putting B.C.
on the leading edge of functional imaging research.
Construction of the Radiopharmaceutical Lab is expected to commence
within the next few months. The total cost of the project is estimated
at $15.3 million, with the Ministry of Health making available
approximately $13.8 million either directly or through the Provincial
Health Services Authority. The balance is being funded through a
commitment by the BC Cancer Foundation to raise $1.5 million in support
of this initiative.
“With the establishment of a radiopharmaceutical laboratory, the BC
Cancer Agency is moving to the forefront of molecular imaging technology
for treatment planning and research,” said Dr. Simon Sutcliffe,
president of the BC Cancer Agency.
With new and expensive therapies coming into the market regularly, this
expanded capacity will enable the BC Cancer Agency to determine which
patients will benefit most, helping make B.C.’s healthcare system more
“This initiative will help to strengthen research capabilities not only
in the BC Cancer Agency, but also in other PHSA research programs, such
as pediatric care,” said PHSA board chair Wynne Powell. “The foresight
shown by the Province, as well as the outstanding support by
organizations and individuals through the BC Cancer Foundation, reflect
key strategic investments in the good health of British Columbians and
the public health-care system itself.”