[ RadSafe ] " Researchers from Sherbrooke succeed in producing technetium 99m with a cyclotron "

Jaro Franta jaro-10kbq at sympatico.ca
Fri Jan 22 16:33:04 CST 2010

A Complementary Solution for Production of Medical Isotopes - Researchers
from Sherbrooke succeed in producing technetium 99m with a cyclotron
SHERBROOKE, QC, Jan. 20 /CNW Telbec/ 
- Researchers at the CHUS's Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel
(CRCELB) and the Université de Sherbrooke, in collaboration with Advanced
Cyclotron Systems Inc. in Vancouver, have just demonstrated that technetium
99m can be produced using a cyclotron. Diagnostic testing indicates that
cyclotron-produced technetium 99m is fully equivalent to that obtained from
nuclear reactor, such as the Chalk River facility. 

The team at the Molecular Imaging Center of Sherbrooke (CIMS), under the
direction of Drs. Brigitte Guérin and Johan van Lier, has demonstrated that
three of the technetium 99m radiopharmaceuticals most commonly used in
nuclear medicine for diagnostic purposes yield exactly the same results,
whether produced in a cyclotron or a nuclear reactor. 

Dr. van Lier stated that "the next step is to optimize production to yield
technetium 99m in quantities sufficient to meet the daily demand of local
hospitals. Moreover, we intend to acquire a second high-energy cyclotron,
which would enable us to secure the supply of medical isotopes and provide
for a backup supply of technetium 99m for a large part of the province of
Quebec." The CHUS currently uses an average of 10 000 millicuries of
technetium per week. 

The report of the expert review panel appointed by Natural Resources Canada
recommended supporting research and development programs for the direct
production of technetium 99m with cyclotrons. According to the experts, "the
cyclotron option would be an important means by which to ensure security of
supply over the long term because it would build in all of the elements
needed for security - capacity, redundancy, and diversity." 

Dr. Guérin observed that "we have the expertise and knowledge to pursue
research and development into cyclotron-based production of technetium 99m.
A minimum investment, compared to the costs associated with nuclear
reactors, would enable us to immediately play a major role in implementing
this novel approach." 

Repeated shutdowns of the aging nuclear reactors in Chalk River (Canada) and
Petten (Netherlands) have caused the current worldwide shortage of
technetium 99m. The fact that these two facilities produce 70% of the
world's supply underscores the urgency of diversifying sources of medical
isotopes. "A National Cyclotron Network would meet all of Canada's medical
isotopes needs, while ensuring supply-chain redundancy and flexibility" says
Richard Eppich, CEO of Advanced Cyclotron Systems Inc. 

As Dr. van Lier firmly stated, "the cyclotron is a proven, safe technology
that offers many tangible advantages. Cyclotron production of radioisotopes
does not require highly enriched weapons grade uranium-used in today's
nuclear reactors-and does not generate nuclear waste. Indeed, it constitutes
a solution that is sustainable and clearly more ecologically sound." 

Our Expertise in Medical Imaging 

The Sherbrooke Molecular Imaging Center (cims.med.usherbrooke.ca),
integrated into the CRCELB, was inaugurated in 1998. The center houses a
medical-imaging platform with cutting edge technology. Our TR-19 cyclotron
produces medical isotopes for PET imaging on a daily basis. From the outset,
the CIMS embarked on an ambitious research and development program
investigating all aspects of PET imaging, from radioisotope production to
using new radiopharmaceuticals for human clinical diagnostics, including
radiochemical synthesis and preclinical animal model validation. 

Since 2003, the CIMS has been supplying many hospitals in Quebec and Eastern
Canada with radiotracers for PET imaging. In anticipation of a growing
demand, the CHUS began planning back in 2005 to acquire a second cyclotron
to secure the supply of medical isotopes. This second high-energy cyclotron
could be brought on-stream in the short term and provide a backup supply of
technetium 99m for a large part of the province of Quebec. In 2008, the CIMS
of the CHUS was granted an Establishment Licence to produce
radiopharmaceuticals for medical applications by Health Canada. 

Cyclotron: A cyclotron is a particle accelerator with a circular
acceleration track. Cyclotrons play an essential role in producing medical
isotopes and provide for producing a wide variety of isotopes, including
those already used for positron emission tomography (PET). Many of these
isotopes are already being used as alternatives to technetium 99m when
shortages occur. This technology allows for adjusting production in response
to market demand, either upwards or downwards, and, in all probability, at a
lower real cost than with a nuclear reactor. 

    About the Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel at the CHUS:

The Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel of the Centre hospitalier
universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS) is at the forefront of current health
issues. The center stands out for its integrated approach, bringing together
fundamental, clinical, epidemiological, and evaluative research. More than
175 basic-science researchers and clinicians have been pooling their
knowledge and expertise for more than 28 years targeting the shared
objective of developing new knowledge to maintain health and prevent

    About the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS):

The Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke has two constituent
institutions: the CHUS - Fleurimont Hospital and the CHUS - Hôtel-Dieu. Its
mission is fourfold: care, teaching, research, and assessment of health-care
technologies and modes of intervention. The fourth largest hospital center
in Quebec, the CHUS plays a triple role of local, regional, and provincial
hospital. The CHUS stands out for its many cutting-edge specialties such as
gamma-knife radiosurgery, positron emission tomography (PET), interventional
angiography, and neuro-oncology. The CHUS hospital community comprises
nearly 9000 individuals (employees, physicians, researchers, students,
trainees, and volunteers) with a single objective: serving life

For further information: Johan van Lier, PhD, (819) 346-1110, Extension
14603, Johan.E.Vanlier at USherbrooke.ca; Interview coordination: Jean-François
Nadeau, Communication Officer, Centre de recherche clinique Étienne-Le Bel,
CHUS, (819) 346-1110, Ext. 12871, Pager: (819) 820-6400, 1817,
jfnadeau.chus at ssss.gouv.qc.ca

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