Vancouver—The Government of Canada today announced a $6 million investment to develop an alternative medical-isotope production technology proposed by TRIUMF and the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA). The team will leverage existing capabilities at TRIUMF and BCCA to develop and demonstrate viable production of Technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely-used medical isotope, which gained worldwide attention last year due to reliability concerns around the nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ontario.
“We are seizing a significant research opportunity thanks to our new cyclotron facility and the great partnerships that have been forged for this project,” said Dr. François Bénard, scientific director, Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging, BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority. “B.C. will be at the forefront of an incredibly significant move to secure a long-term production plan for medical isotopes through our research at the BC Cancer Agency and TRIUMF.”
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.
The team, including collaborators from the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization and the Lawson Health Research Institute in Ontario, will be developing a long-known alternative technology for producing Tc-99m using particle accelerators (called cyclotrons) that already exist at TRIUMF and BCCA.
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.”
More information about this project is available on the TRIUMF website.