Harper Government Announces Recipients of Funding to Advance New Sources of Medical Isotopes

February 28, 2013 (Source: Marketwire) Ottawa, ON — The Honourable Joe Oliver, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, speaking today at the Canadian Nuclear Association Conference and Trade Show, announced the signing of contribution agreements with three innovative Canadian organizations to develop new sources of supply of the key medical isotope, technetium-99m (Tc-99m). Tc-99m is the most widely used isotope for medical imaging and is used in approximately 80 percent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures.

Following a rigorous competitive process, the Government is funding projects led by the University of Alberta, TRIUMF in British Columbia and Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise in Manitoba. This funding will support the development and application of cyclotron and linear accelerator production technologies to improve the security of supply of medical isotopes for Canadians, reduce radioactive waste and meet nuclear non-proliferation goals.

“The Harper Government is investing in Canadian expertise to develop new sources of supply of medical isotopes used in diagnosing various diseases, such as cancer and heart disease,” said Minister Oliver. “Medical isotopes are vital in providing early and accurate diagnosis that benefits thousands of Canadians every year.”

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A key commitment of Economic Action Plan 2012, the Isotope Technology Acceleration Program (ITAP) was designed to bring innovative isotope production to market. The four-year, $25-million program will support collaboration among academic, private and public sector partners and the work needed to attract private sector interest and to help ensure that isotope production is reliable and on a sound commercial footing.

This investment will allow Canada to remain a leader in medical isotope technology, meeting clear public health policy needs for Canadians, while supporting high-quality jobs at home and opening technology export opportunities.

The health and safety of Canadians remains a priority of the Harper Government. This investment aligns 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.

For information about the specific projects, please visit the websites of the project leaders: University of Alberta TRIUMF and Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise.

The funding will be provided as follows:

  • University of Alberta ($7 million – cyclotron) in Edmonton,
  • TRIUMF ($7 million – cyclotron) in British Columbia, and
  • Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise ($7.46 million – linear accelerator) in Manitoba.

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