A new cyclotron and radiopharmaceutical manufacturing facility, opened by ISOLOGIC Innovative Radiopharmaceuticals Ltd. (ISOLOGIC) at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, is expanding access to positron emitting radiopharmaceuticals (PERs), an essential component in molecular imaging commonly referred to as PET imaging.
PET imaging is widely used in other Canadian provinces and worldwide in the diagnosis of cancer, cardiac, and neurological diseases.
“PET scans are increasingly revolutionizing the early diagnosis of many diseases including heart disease and cancer,” said Andre Gagnon, President of ISOLOGIC. “In Canada, over 43,000 patients are administered PET scans every year and this type of imaging is rapidly expanding here and internationally,” ISOLOGIC’s Toronto-based facility immediately establishes the supply of these short-lived medical isotopes necessary to promote and grow the accessibility of PET imaging in the Greater Toronto Area and throughout Ontario. To date, utilization of PET imaging in Ontario has lagged behind other Canadian provinces and Europe.
Now through the ISOLOGIC facility, hospital-based Nuclear Medicine / PET departments and independent imaging centres can easily and quickly access radiopharmaceuticals, assuring radiologists a dedicated supply chain. This assurance is another positive step towards placing PET imaging machines in Ontario that will increase public access and have a positive impact on public health care.
ISOLOGIC’s Toronto-based facility will also provide radioisotope supply and support to molecular imaging research based at Ontario’s many academic and tertiary medical centers and will soon begin production of radiopharmaceuticals to identify components of Alzheimer’s disease to support clinical trials throughout Canada.
ISOLOGIC’s new facility provides a local solution to a looming crisis that will impact nuclear medicine worldwide. The supply of medical isotopes is highly dependent on the aging Canadian Chalk River nuclear reactor, which now produces approximately 40 percent of the world’s supply. It is scheduled to close in 2016, potentially affecting the 5,500 nuclear medicine procedures performed in Canada daily. The ISOLOGIC operations provide an alternative radiopharmaceutical that produces a scan with greater sensitivity and resolution than existing procedures.
“Patient care was impacted by the unexpected 15-month shutdown of the Chalk River reactor in 2009, so this facility at Sunnybrook is part of an effort to ensure we’re prepared for its permanent closure,” said Andre Gagnon.
ISOLOGIC’s newest facility houses an IBA cyclotron, a particle accelerator with six different targets (meaning it is capable of creating six different isotopes that each have different medical applications), imaging agent synthesis modules capable of manufacturing over 10 different PET imaging agents (each with a different disease process to image), and equipment to package and transport the nuclear medicine.