The team announced the successful ramp-up of its technology to regularly produce enough of the critical Tc-99m isotope to supply an urban area the size of Vancouver. This achievement eliminates the need for nuclear reactors to produce isotopes, especially those that use weapons-grade uranium, which has been the traditional approach.
Paul Schaffer, head of TRIUMF's Nuclear Medicine Division and principal investigator for the project, said, "This achievement is a crucial step on the road to meeting Canada's isotope needs after the NRU ceases production in 2016. This effort required teamwork and dedication from many people." In addition to TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, the team includes experts at the BC Cancer Agency, the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), and Lawson Health Research Institute.
Each year, tens of millions of medical procedures are conducted around the world with Tc-99m, an isotope used in radiopharmaceuticals for imaging disease in the heart, bones, and elsewhere in the body. A small number of ageing reactors account for most of the global capacity for isotope production; one of them is the AECL National Research Universal (NRU) reactor in Chalk River, Ontario. In the past few years, these reactors have suffered maintenance and repair outages, threatening the global supply of medical isotopes."
Also see: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/3843443-mcmaster-hopes-to-stabilize-supply-of-medical-isotopes/