GE Healthcare wins contracts for
cyclotrons in Canada
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. –
GE Healthcare Canada has won orders to build and equip two cyclotrons,
in Halifax and London, Ont. The cyclotrons are being constructed to
provide radioactive tracers for use in local Positron Emission
Tomography (PET) scanners, which are widely considered to be the imaging
‘gold standard’ for identifying cancers in the body and determining
whether tumours are advancing or shrinking during therapy.
PET scanners are also proving useful in the identification of various
cardiovascular and neurological disorders.
In Halifax and London, GE Healthcare is leading the complete
implementation of the cyclotron and chemistry systems, including FASTlab
technology, an automated synthesis system for streamlining the
production of radiotracers such as FDG. The two sites will be
operational in 2009.
Peter Robertson, General Manager of GE Healthcare Canada, based in
Mississauga, Ont., said the combined cyclotrons, FASTlab systems and
related equipment at the sites each represent investments of between $5
million to $10 million.
“We’re providing them with an end-to-end offering, including training on
how to use the systems,” said Robertson.
Robertson noted that the Canadian market is very active with an
additional five to eight active cyclotron projects across the country.
The surging business in cyclotrons has been fuelled by the uptake of PET
scanners, and funding provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation
for research purposes and trials.
GE Healthcare Canada is also supplying its FASTlab advanced radiotracer
chemistry system to a private-sector PET imaging centre in Vancouver.
The centre is importing its own stock of radioactive isotopes from
nearby Seattle; it will then use the GE FASTlab system for further
processing, transforming them into human radiotracers. The FASTlab
system in Vancouver will be up and running in the spring of 2008.
“One of the biggest benefits of FASTlab is that you don’t need a chemist
on site to produce radiotracers,” said Hadi Moufarrej, Global General
Manager, Molecular Imaging, for GE Healthcare Technologies. The FASTlab
system automates much of the process of producing the radiotracers
needed for PET scanning.
Robertson said that PET scanning for clinical purposes is expected to
quickly grow at sites across the Canada, including Ontario, which
currently doesn’t provide re-imbursement to Nuclear Medicine Physicians
for PET exams.
But with PET proving itself internationally as a powerful tool for the
early detection of cancer and the proper staging of tumours, observers
feel it’s only a matter of time before Ontario starts funding the use of
the scanners at imaging centres.
While Canada has lagged behind other industrialized nations in terms of
the number of PET scanners deployed, Canada already has internationally
recognized expertise in this field. Sites at McMaster University, in
Hamilton, Ont., the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, as well as
centres in Vancouver, Ottawa and Sherbrooke, Que., have been long-time
leaders in PET technology.