Minister Rickford: Harper Government Supporting Milestones in Medical Isotope Research

Canada's Natural Resources Minister visits TRIUMF facility at University of British Columbia

VANCOUVER, March 30, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Greg Rickford, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, today toured the TRIUMF subatomic physics facility at the University of British Columbia. Investments by the Harper Government are helping advance scientific research in the field of non-reactor-based medical isotope production.

Since 2010, the Harper Government has committed $60 million to fund the research and development of medical isotope technologies, specifically cyclotrons and linear accelerators, for the production of the isotope technetium-99 (Tc-99m).  These investments in non-reactor-based isotopes ensure the security of medical isotope supply and assist in meeting Canada's non-proliferation commitments.

TRIUMF is led by an interdisciplinary team, with members from the BC Cancer Agency, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, the University of British Columbia and the Lawson Health Research Institute, that is developing a production method for Tc-99m that can be used by various brands of conventional cyclotrons already in use in hospitals and health centres across the country. 

On January 5, 2015, researchers announced a breakthrough in producing Tc-99m, demonstrating a process that enables the routine production of sufficient Tc-99m to satisfy the daily demand for a population the size of British Columbia — or 500 patients — from a six-hour run on a common brand of medical cyclotrons. A news release issued by TRIUMF regarding this achievement can be accessed here: http://www.triumf.ca/sites/default/files/2015-01-05_NR-ITAP-Milestone_vFINAL_0.pdf.

Quick Facts

  • Tc-99m is used in 80 percent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures — two million medical scans are performed in Canada every year with this isotope. 
  • As part of its $60-million investment to advance alternative isotopes production technologies, the Government has committed $13 million to support the work led by TRIUMF for Tc-99m production from a cyclotron. 
  • The Government's investments are aligned with Canada's commitment to nuclear security and non-proliferation by moving toward eliminating the need for highly enriched uranium in the production of medical isotopes. 

Quotes

"The impressive outcomes being achieved by this Canadian team of scientists is outstanding news. Our government's investment in scientific research is supporting the production of a reliable daily supply of life-saving medical isotopes while supporting high-quality jobs here in British Columbia and across Canada."

Greg Rickford
Canada's Minister of Natural Resources

 

SOURCE Natural Resources Canada

For further information: Chris McCluskey, Director of Communications, Office of Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, 613-996-2007; or Media Relations, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, 613-992-4447; The general public may contact: Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. EDT, Telephone: 613-995-0947, E-mail: questions@nrcan.gc.ca; Follow us on Twitter: @NRCan (http://twitter.com/nrcan); NRCan's news releases and backgrounders are available at www.nrcan.gc.ca/media

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