ARCHIVED - Isotope Technology Acceleration Program

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Backgrounder

Canadian efforts to develop alternative sources of isotope supply began in 2009, when the Expert Review Panel on Medical Isotope Production, established by the Government of Canada, recommended that steps be taken to diversify the supply chain. The Panel highlighted the potential of cyclotron and linear accelerator technologies.

The Government of Canada responded by announcing in Budget 2010 an investment of $35 million to diversify sources of the key isotope technetium-99m (Tc-99m). Tc-99m is the most widely used isotope for medical imaging and accounts for approximately 80 percent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures.

The Non-reactor-based Isotope Supply Contribution Program (NISP) provided funding over two years to four multi-partner projects to support the research, development and demonstration of cyclotron and linear accelerator technologies for the production of Tc-99m. These projects have shown promising results, including small-scale demonstration of Tc-99m production.

However, more work is required to bring these technologies to commercial-scale production, including the steps needed to meet regulatory requirements. To further advance the development of these alternatives to existing isotope production technologies and help secure the supply of medical isotopes for Canadians, Budget 2012 provided an additional $25 million over four years to Natural Resources Canada for the Isotope Technology Acceleration Program (ITAP) to build on the developments made through NISP.

ITAP will invest in the work to optimize the processes and build the evidence needed for health regulatory approvals to attract private sector interest and bring these technologies to market. The funding will support collaboration among academic, private and public sector partners to further advance non–reactor-based technologies, specifically linear accelerators and cyclotrons, for securing the supply of Tc-99m for Canadians in the medium to long term.

This investment will also allow Canada to remain a leader in medical isotopes and grow business opportunities for domestic and international markets, while supporting high-quality jobs at home. These investments are also 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.

Media may contact: 

Patricia Best
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa
613-996-2007

Or:

Media Relations
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa
613-992-4447