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TRIUMF Team Receives Isotopes Investment

28 February 2013

The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, speaking today at the Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show, announced the signing of contribution agreements with three innovative Canadian organizations to develop new sources of supply of the key medical isotope, technetium-99m (Tc-99m). Tc-99m is the most widely used isotope for medical imaging and is used in approximately 80 percent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures.

Following a rigorous competitive process, the Government is funding teams led by the University of Alberta ($7M), TRIUMF in British Columbia ($7M) , and the Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise in Manitoba (~$7.5M). This funding will support the development and application of cyclotron and linear accelerator production technologies to improve the security of supply of medical isotopes for Canadians, reduce radioactive waste and meet nuclear non-proliferation goals.

The team led by TRIUMF is known as the CycloTech99 consortium. It welcomes the investment by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) through the Isotope Technology Acceleration Program (ITAP) and its partners in provinces, universities, and industry.  These funds represent a continued investment from NRCan resulting fromearlier efforts during the Non-reactor-based Isotope Supply Contribution Program (NISP).

As announced in February 2012, CycloTech99 has demonstrated the capability to produce the world’s most popular medical isotope, technetium-99m, on medical cyclotrons already installed in Ontario and British Columbia.  The solution developed in ITAP includes regulatory approval and commercial roll out for a truly national technetium production solution for the benefit of all Canadians, by securing medical isotopes for our patients when the NRU reactor in Chalk River ceases production in 2016. CycloTech99 has a clear pathway to address and stabilize this gap.

Principal investigator Paul Schaffer leads the team and is head of TRIUMF’s Nuclear Medicine Division. He said, “The federal government has invested in our team to deliver an innovation for the benefit of all Canadians. We look forward to delivering a domestic solution to the medical isotope crisis in the near future.”

"The Harper Government is working to find new ways of producing medical isotopes for the diagnosis of heart disease and cancer in Canadians,” said the Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “The project with TRIUMF is designed to enable medical centres across Canada to produce their own key isotopes for local patients.”

The CycloTech99 consortium consists of the BC Cancer Agency, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, Lawson Health Research Institute, and TRIUMF.  Several industrial partners are also involved and are developing commercialization pathways consistent with the program objectives.