Canadian gov't invests in isotope alternative

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The Government of Canada is investing $6 million to develop an alternative medical isotope production technology proposed by TRIUMF, British Columbia (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 production of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely-used medical isotope globally, which gained attention last year due to reliability concerns around the Chalk River nuclear reactor.

“This technology will take advantage of existing infrastructure to develop and demonstrate the capability for manufacturing technetium at multiple sites across the country [of Canada] using the most diverse collection of commercially available cyclotrons,” said Thomas J. Ruth, senior research scientist at TRIUMF and the BC Cancer Agency, who is heading this proposal.

The team, known as CycloTech99, will be developing an alternative for producing Tc-99m that uses particle accelerators called cyclotrons that already exist in some hospitals. By enabling regional hospitals to produce and distribute this isotope to local clinics, widespread disruptions will be an issue of the past.

“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 countries,” Ruth said.