CycloMed99 has demonstrated an alternative source of Tc-99m
The CycloMed99 team has created a solution that makes it possible to create Tc99m on medical cyclotrons already in place across Canada. Since 2009, the group has been working on this alternative solution using their expertise in all aspects of the technological, production, regulatory, and commercialization components.
Leveraging the outcomes of the NSERC CIHR and ITAP investments in cyclotron production of Tc-99m, the CycloMed99 team is moving the technology into demonstration phase. In fact, CycloMed99 designed their technology to be applied and retrofitted onto existing infrastructure of cyclotrons already in use at heath centers and hospitals across the country.
The proposed upgrades to existing medical cyclotrons and production sites can be done quickly and cost effectively, boosting an already capable Canadian cyclotron infrastructure.
A national solution
Cyclotrons dedicated to producing medical isotopes other than Tc-99m already exist in hospitals across the country; as of 2014, there are about a eighteen installed and several more anticipated to be installed across Canada. The CycloMed99 team has brought together four of these facilities and demonstrated what it takes to produce Tc-99m directly – on budget, on location.
Depending on the machine capability, a large metropolitan area could be supplied by a single dedicated, or a handful of partially dedicated, medical cyclotrons. By enabling regional hospitals to produce and distribute this lifesaving isotope to local clinics, widespread supply disruptions will be an issue of the past.
With the ITAP initiative, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is supporting the implementation of key procedures, cyclotron modifications and large-scale isotope production protocols. Once complete, these parameters will be standardized in order to allow existing cyclotron sites to produce Tc-99m in any given area. The team will also establish the logistics associated with clinical sites that serve small, medium, and large patient populations.
The CycloMed99 approach will ensure that the arising technology can be quickly implemented in many regions of the country, thereby supporting Canada’s universal and accessible approach to healthcare. It will also create new opportunities to export Canadian technology to international partners and across multiple business sectors thus maintaining Canada as an international leader in an emerging health technology market.
By the completion of the NRCan-ITAP project, the team will be producing Tc-99m on three different brands of medical cyclotrons at a commercial scale. Production and distribution of this most commonly used isotope from a regional supply hub will de-centralize the process, helping Canada to avoid future isotope shortages.
Canada's medical and accelerator communities have benefited through the development and testing of high-powered targets, novel isotope separation, and purification methods. This effort has seen Canada’s nuclear medicine community come together to develop a new radiopharmaceutical and can serve as a basis for future work toward other medically-relevant radioisotopes.
Relevant adjacencies exist for nearly all aspects of this technology, with potential applications that have benefits toward other aspects of nuclear medicine, molecular imaging and non-related fields. For example, the proposed investment will have benefits in the production of other SPECT medical isotopes that could be used as alternatives to Tc-99m. Commonly used PET isotopes, such as F-18 and C-11 are typically produced on cyclotrons as well, enabling a centre to produce these isotopes as value-added products thereby further reducing operating costs.
A cyclotron-based production of Tc-99m is a clean, “green,” and local solution for Canada. Ultimately, this benefit trickles down to all Canadians as they can expect a reliable and safe source of isotope production from their healthcare providers.