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Natural Resources Canada
2011/13
January 24, 2011


SHERBROOKE, QUEBEC — The Government of Canada has finalized agreements to invest in four projects to develop new ways of producing the key medical 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 two-year, $35 million Non-reactor-based Isotope Supply Contribution Program (NISP) is designed to advance cyclotron and linear accelerator technologies to achieve a more diverse and secure supply of Tc-99m, with less reliance on nuclear reactor-based production.

“This Program follows through on our commitment in Budget 2010 to support Canadian innovation in the production of medical isotopes,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources. “These investments will help us move towards a more diversified supply chain - one that is robust and less vulnerable to disruption. The technologies would also help to reduce the production of radioactive waste that results from reactor-based production.”

“The range of partners on these multidisciplinary teams reflects the expertise and creativity at work in laboratories and medical facilities across Canada,” said Brad Trost, M.P. for Saskatoon - Humboldt. “The successful completion of these projects will lead to the creation of high-quality jobs and help position Canada as a global leader in emerging isotope production technologies,” said Mr. Trost, who was at an event in Saskatoon hosted by the Canadian Light Source Inc., one of the project leaders.

The four projects take advantage of existing cyclotron and linear accelerator facilities across Canada, some of which are already producing and distributing other medical isotopes. The projects will focus on the research and development needed to scale up the processes and examine the safety and commercial viability of non-reactor-based isotope supply of Tc-99m. If commercialized, these technologies would create a more distributed network of supply hubs to overcome the vulnerabilities of the current supply chain, and reduce nuclear waste from medical isotope production.

Also as part of Budget 2010, Health Canada is providing $3 million to the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) to investigate the optimal use of medical isotopes and alternatives. This investment will provide guidance to the health system on how to optimize the management and use of the medical isotope Technetium-99m, and consider appropriate alternative medical isotopes and medical imaging equipment.

The report of the Expert Review Panel on Medical Isotope Production, released in December 2009, recommended the diversification of the supply chain and highlighted the potential of cyclotron and linear accelerator technologies. The NISP supports the development of these technologies to better understand their commercial viability and to attract private sector investment.

Information about the four projects can be found by following the links to the proponents’ project web sites: Advanced Cyclotron Systems Inc. TRIUMF, Canadian Light Source Inc. and The Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise.


FOR BROADCAST:

The Government of Canada has finalized agreements to invest $35 million in four projects to develop new ways of producing the key medical isotope technetium-99m. This isotope is widely used for medical imaging and accounts for approximately 80 percent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures. The projects will result in a more diverse and secure supply of medical isotopes.

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Richard Walker
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada
Ottawa
613-996-2007

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