SHERBROOKE, QC, March 26, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - Today scientists from the
CHUS' Centre de Recherche Clinique Étienne - Le Bel (CRCELB),
University of Alberta in Edmonton and Advanced Cyclotron Systems Inc.
(ACSI) in Vancouver are meeting in Sherbrooke to participate in
commissioning of the CHUS new cyclotron facility and to start first
production runs of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) using TR-24 - a 24
megaelectron volt (MeV) - cyclotron built and installed by ACSI. These
first test runs will pave the road to establishing a conceptually new
way of producing medical isotopes with far less environmental impact
than those produced by nuclear reactors. These organizations first
proposed the use of this technology to alleviate the medical isotope
cricis back in 2009 when the NRU reactor was shut down for 15 months
due to heavy water leaks. Joint work of these partners resulted in the
first successful demonstration of Tc-99m production using TR-19 (19
MeV) cyclotrons with subsequent animal trials in Sherbrooke and
Today, the three partners held a workshop detailing the work that has
been done on the project entitled "Commercializing Cyclotron Production of Tc-99m in Canada". This $11 million project is part of the $35 million program initiated by
Natural Resources Canada - Non-Reactor Based Isotope Supply Program (NISP) -created to diversify and improve Canada's isotope supply chain.
Sherbrooke's new TR-24 cyclotron, installed in January this year, is now
operational and ready to start producing the precious material. " An
identical cyclotron will become operational at our new facility this
summer", says Dr. Steve McQuarrie, from the University of Alberta.
"This workshop allowed us to demonstrate that the new TR-24 cyclotron
operates as expected up to 24 MeV and high power", explains Dre.
Brigitte Guérin, researcher at CHUS' CRCELB and professor at the
Université de Sherbrooke. "The last technetium shortage in 2009 and
2010 led to delays or cancellations for many nuclear medicine
procedures in North America, impacting many clinical investigations
that were deemed urgent. The results of our project is a significant
step towards developing a viable alternative to the production of
medical isotopes using aging and potentially dangerous nuclear
reactors", says Dr. Alexander Zyuzin, project principal investigator
and director of R&D at ACSI in Vancouver.
Sientists and engineers from CRCELB, University of Alberta and ACSI
will continue the research and development program to investigate
large-scale production of technetium-99m and other medical isotopes
needed to advance growing needs of the Canadian heath care system.
CRCELB will be focusing on the development of a secure supply of
medical isotopes, including Tc-99m, in addition to the current PET
tracers for CHUS's clinical and scientific programs. The mid-term goal
is to increase production levels to supply up to 50% of Quebec's Tc-99m
needs. The University of Alberta is establishing an isotope production
facility that will meet the needs of Alberta. ACSI will continue
working on improving cyclotron and target technology to further
increase production capabilities of new versatile TR-24 systems.
Image with caption: "From left to right : The team members of Vancouver, Sherbrooke and Edmonton : Katie Gagnon, Alexander Zyuzin, John Wilson, Johannes van Lier, Doug Abrams, Roger Lecomte, Lidia Matei, Eric E. Turcotte, Steve McQuarrie, Steve Jakeway, Brigitte Guérin, Martin Toussaint, Umendra Mital (CNW Group/Centre hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120326_C7880_PHOTO_EN_11567.jpg