Ending the medical isotope shortage

Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization – CPDC (CECR)

A medical cyclotron in action at Lawson Health Research Institute.

Canada is a step closer to having hospitals use cyclotrons to produce their own technetium – an isotope vital for medical imaging – by creating a decentralized production system with less risk of shortages than the nuclear reactors currently used to produce isotopes. TRIUMF, the BC Cancer Agency, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization and Lawson Health Research Institute demonstrated that a city the size of Vancouver could reliably meet its isotope needs by using a locally manufactured medical cyclotron. Clearing this technical hurdle is a crucial step to meeting Canada’s isotope needs after the AECL National Research Universal reactor in Chalk River, Ontario stops producing the vital isotopes in 2016.

This milestone is key to our plans to deploy this technology to the existing medical cyclotron facilities in Canada, and hundreds more worldwide. The diversification of the technetium-99m supply chain with robust and cost-effective cyclotron-based technology will reduce the dependence on the conventional, reactor-derived supply. Dr. Michael Kovacs, Imaging Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute