McMaster using cyclotron to turn out medical isotopes

mcmaster103X70.gifHAMILTON – The McMaster University Medical Centre leaps into the breach to produce medical isotopes in the wake of a global shortage stemming from the shutdown of the troubled Chalk River nuclear reactor.
While the centre’s isotopes are effective in detecting cancer, they are expensive to produce, given the facility’s limited cyclotron capacity. And although the centre will be able to supply only a fraction of the tiny radioactive particles needed to meet the current deficiency, the university believes that it must do what it can to help alleviate the shortage.
Dr. Karen Gulenchyn, chief of nuclear medicine at Hamilton Health Sciences and an associate professor at McMaster U., says that what isotopes the centre can produce will be very useful at a time when supply is compromised by aging nuclear reactors.
The centre is not the only facility using its equipment to meet the current demand. Health Canada recently approved isotopes being made using a cyclotron at the Centres for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
Chalk River was the world’s largest single source for medical isotopes before shutting down after a radioactive water leak was discovered in mid-May. Officials at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. are still unsure when the reactor will be back online and producing medical isotopes again.

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