Eureka Alert

IMAGE: A cyclotron at the University of Alberta has proven capable of producing enough medical isotopes for up to 1,000 diagnostic procedures in a day. view more 

Credit: University of Alberta

(Edmonton, AB) University of Alberta scientists have taken a critical step towards supplying Alberta’s demand for medical isotopes. Their newly published findings could have major implications for other health jurisdictions across North America as well.

Researchers at the university’s Medical Isotope and Cyclotron Facility used a particle accelerator known as a cyclotron to produce enough isotopes for up to 1,000 diagnostic procedures in a day.

“We were asked to show that we could make it in the quantities that are required to supply a province and we’ve done it. We are the only people who have done that,” said Sandy McEwan, a professor of oncology at the U of A.

The development comes in the wake of the closure last March of the Chalk River nuclear reactor, which was one of two major producers in the world of technetium-99m, the major medical isotope used for diagnostic procedures.

Technetium-99m, a radioactive tracer that can be detected in the body by medical equipment, is used in about two million procedures


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