Australian news, and some related international items

Cyclotrons, not nuclear reactors, are the way of the future for medical radioisotopes

University’s cyclotron facility could fully supply province’s demand for medical isotopes HINA ALAM, Edmonton Journal : May 15, 2018  

For an Albertan who needs it, the journey of a radioactive isotope that has the ability to detect a potential heart or a bone cancer could begin at the University of Alberta’s Medical Isotope Cyclotron Facility…….

Although tests conducted over the past few months have shown that the U of A facility is capable of meeting the province’s need for 1,000 diagnostic procedures a day, there are still hurdles to overcome and its future use for producing technetium is still unclear…..

But research lead and university oncology department chairman Sandy McEwan sees a silver lining….

There are three isotopes that are commonly used — technetium-99m, a radioactive molecule of fluorine used in PET (positron emission tomography) scanning, and isotopes of iodine, used to detect and treat thyroid cancers.

Technetium-99m is the most common of these, and has a half-life of six hours, meaning that only half of it remains after that time. This is advantageous because the imaging scan is quick and the technetium doesn’t linger around in the body. This also means that the isotope must be produced quickly.

In the cyclotron, McEwan said it takes about six hours to make enough technetium-99m for the province each day.

……… ……The U of A technology shows that the isotope can be made locally and the science replicated across the country.

As it stands now, a dose of technetium-99m produced by the cyclotron at U of A is about 10 per cent more expensive compared to a dose of technetium-99m produced by traditional reactors.

“But that includes costing everything,” McEwan said. “It includes costing the cyclotron, the building, the research, the operations — everything.”

McEwan said the technetium-99m produced by the cyclotron is of a slightly higher purity profile than what you get from a reactor.

Also, most of the reactors are extremely old, said John Wilson, manager of the facility……

“Nuclear reactors are the highest capacity source for technetium-99m but are very, very expensive and create nuclear waste,” he said. “No one wants a reactor built close to where they live.” Jan Andersson, a researcher at the facility said as the supply stands now, reactors produce molybdenum-99, which has a half-life of 66 days and decays into technetium-99m, which is used in patients. This allows isotope to be supplied from far away but only if the reactors are running.

McEwan believes that technetium PET imaging will soon fade to give way to newer technologies, and the cyclotron is well-positioned to handle that.

“The cyclotron is Canadian,” he said. “We have a made-in-Canada solution.”


August 4, 2018 - Posted by | General News

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: