The Globe and Mail's Hannah Hoag has written a most informative story on the use of the latest, more powerful cyclotrons at the University of Alberta and the University of Sherbrooke to produce important medical isotopes for procedures such as cancer diagnosis and cardiac care. (The story can be accessed on the Globe & Mail website through this link "Radioactive Medicine without the Nuclear Headache.” It was last updated on Jan. 20, 2012.)
The goal of this ambitious project is to prove that cyclotrons can economically make sufficient quantities of medical isotopes, thus removing the dependence on nuclear reactors for this medically important product.
The current supply of medical isotopes for Canada is dependent on the aging and increasingly unreliable specialty nuclear reactor at the Chalk River Laboratories near Ottawa. That reactor, still producing some 40% of the world's medical isotopes, will see its operating license expire in 2016.
Should the project be successful, the entire Canadian demand for medical isotopes could be addressed with approximately 15-18 of these new cyclotrons.
The University of Alberta, with multiple partners including TEC Edmonton, is currently renovating the former Balmoral Curling Club on its South Campus to accommodate the new cyclotron (from Advanced Cyclotron Systems Inc.), expected to be undergoing its initial testing by the late summer or early fall of 2012.
TEC Edmonton is providing management resources to the University of Alberta for the cyclotron project.
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