Canada to build advanced medical isotope centre

02 November 2018

Canada is to invest more than CAD50 million (USD38 million) on a new centre for advanced medical isotope research and development. The centre will be on the campus of Triumf, the national laboratory for particle physics, at the University of British Columbia.

A artistic impression of how the new centre could look (Image: Architecture 49)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday announced federal funding for the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes (IAMI) during a visit to Triumf.

The 2500-square-metre state-of-the-art facility will house a new TR-24 medical cyclotron, a cyclotron control room and six laboratories. It will also have technical rooms, quality control laboratories, office space, and electrical control rooms.

The construction of the facility is valued at CAD31.8 million, Triumf said. "With additional equipment and philanthropic funding, the total value of the IAMI project will be more than CAD50 million," it added.

The government of Canada will contribute CAD10,232,310 to the project through the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Province of British Columbia has contributed CAD12,250,000, Triumf is contributing CAD5,352,638 and, through fundraising initiatives, BC Cancer and the University of British Columbia are each contributing CAD2 million.

"IAMI promises to secure a local supply of several important medical isotopes, including critical imaging isotope technetium-99m (Tc-99m), and to enable Canadian access to the global Tc-99m market," Triumf said. Canada is already a leader in the global medical isotope market - worth some USD3 billion - and contributes more than 50% of the world's raw material for medical isotope supply.

Announcing the federal funding, Trudeau said: "The Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes will be a state-of-the-art facility where industry leaders and academics can work together to push the boundaries of research and discover new ways to protect and improve our health. We will continue to invest in cutting-edge research and facilities - like the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes – to ensure Canada remains a world leader in medical research and innovation."

"The new drugs and cancer treatments developed by Triumf and the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes will help people live longer, healthier lives," said John Horgan, premier of British Columbia. "Investing in the front lines of the fight against cancer will give life and hope to people here in British Columbia and around the world."

Jonathan Bagger, director of Triumf, added: "Through IAMI, Triumf and its partners will advance research into next-generation, life-saving medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals. IAMI will provide the facilities necessary to connect bench to bedside and translate scientific breakthroughs into real-world treatments for cancer and other diseases."

Triumf, located in Vancouver, is Canada's national particle accelerator centre, owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of universities. The venture is supported in part by the Canadian government through an annual contribution of more than CAD50 million provided by the National Research Council for core operations.

In April, Canadian science, health care and nuclear sector organisations launched an initiative aiming to ensure the country remains a world leader in the production of medical isotopes following the final closure of the National Research Universal reactor. The Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council aims to raise awareness and support long-term policies at the domestic and international level. Canadian radioisotope production currently takes place in nuclear power reactors, research reactors, and particle accelerators such as Triumf and the Canadian Light Source.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News