"This facility builds upon our pioneering research in nuclear medicine and is a stellar example of what can be achieved when the academic community, funding partners, and the health care sector come together to address critical needs—imaging agents for cancer diagnosis and other much-needed innovations in nuclear medicine and molecular imaging that make use of short-lived radioisotopes."
With $25.5 million in total funding (includes equipment, construction, regulatory approvals, and other costs) from the Government of Saskatchewan and Western Economic Diversification Canada, the facility will be located in the former Animal Resource Centre on campus between the Canadian Light Source and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. PCL Construction Management Inc. is the successful bidder to renovate and expand the building to accommodate the cyclotron, which will be supplied by Advanced Cyclotron Systems Inc. of Richmond B.C. Site preparation will start this month.
"Our Government is proud to have invested in this important project," said the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Canada's Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification. "The cyclotron will help Canada remain at the forefront of agricultural biotechnology and veterinary medicine, while opening new fields for research and development in medical imaging and isotope development."
"The cyclotron is a clear demonstration of the growth and innovation found here in Saskatchewan and part of our provincial strategy to renew our role as a leader in nuclear science," said the Honourable Bill Boyd, Saskatchewan's Minister Responsible for Innovation. "Not only is it important to ongoing science and physics research happening here in Saskatchewan, but the cyclotron will be used to produce medical isotopes for the new PET-CT diagnostic equipment being installed at Royal University Hospital to improve cancer care. Congratulations to the University of Saskatchewan on having completed the design stage and we look forward to advancing this project together."
The Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation, a U of S subsidiary, will manage and operate the U of S-owned cyclotron and lab facility, engaging researchers, students and industry partners from a broad range of disciplines to address human, animal, and crop/plant diseases and other molecular imaging applications.
The facility is expected to be operating for research purposes by 2015, and by 2016 will be fully operational, including supplying medical isotopes for the new PET-CT (Positron Emission Tomography - Computed Tomography) scanner at RUH. For many types of cancer, a PET/CT scan is the most effective way to identify the disease. The facility will provide Saskatchewan-based researchers with the state-of-art resources they need to develop new radiopharmaceuticals—drugs containing radioactive materials—that can be used to detect and diagnose diseases such as cancers, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, as well as to guide treatment strategies for these diseases.
Cyclotrons have been in use around the world since the 1940s to produce radioisotopes for hospitals in major urban centres. As the isotopes produced decay away in a matter of hours, extraction and research are best done in adjacent laboratories, specially designed to enable researchers to work safely. Risks to working or living near such facilities are negligible.
Designed and operated to meet or exceed the highest federal safety standards, the U of S facility will be regulated by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Health Canada, and will conform to U of S health and safety requirements.
Provincial and federal investment in the new research and development technology was announced in March of 2011. Since then, the university has been undertaking extensive internal and external consultations, including with leading Canadian nuclear medical imaging centres, to ensure that the design of the cyclotron and associated lab will meet user needs and be cost effective.
For more information, contact:
Director of Research Profile and Impact
University of Saskatchewan
Matthew Dalzell, Communications Officer
Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation