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State-of-the-art technology enhances cancer diagnostics, research, care

CANADA, January 30 - Cancer patients and their families will benefit from more access to life-saving cancer diagnostics as new equipment and research expand access to PET/CT scans and innovative cancer treatments throughout the province.

Construction is underway in Vancouver for a new state-of-the-art cyclotron and radiopharmacy laboratory, which will increase the production of clinical radiotracers, the radioactive isotopes used in medical imaging to detect and monitor cancers. Increasing access to this technology supports cancer research, improves cancer diagnostics and provides more treatment options to cancer patients.

“Ensuring people in B.C. have access to PET/CT scans and world-class cancer care is a critical part of our Province’s 10-year cancer-care action plan, and we are committed to investing in these life-saving technologies and research,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “By expanding clinical and research radioisotope production, this new facility will improve access to critical diagnostic tests for patients in the coming years, while furthering the groundbreaking research that will transform care and scientific knowledge for generations to come.”

In addition, TRIUMF will receive funding from the Province to expand its laboratory capacity to support cancer research as the next generation of treatments for cancer and other diseases are developed.

“Our strong partnerships along with the passion and drive for research excellence are a solid foundation on which we continue to grow our infrastructure,” said David Byres, president and chief executive officer, Provincial Health Services Authority. “The cyclotron and radiopharmacy laboratories will increase our capacity to deliver on the priorities laid out in B.C.’s 10-year cancer action plan, strengthen cancer-care services and accelerate diagnostics and treatments for people in B.C.” 

Researchers and staff with TRIUMF and BC Cancer will use the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes’ new cyclotron and radiopharmacy laboratories, along with the facilities’ existing cyclotron and laboratories, to produce clinical radiotracers and advance B.C. as a leader in the fast-growing field of nuclear medicine. A growing area of research and innovation is to use radioisotopes for targeted radiopharmaceutical therapies as they can be harnessed to deliver radiation treatment directly to cancer cells with minimal impact on nearby healthy tissues.

The Province is investing $32 million to support this work through $21 million to BC Cancer for the new cyclotron and radiopharmacy laboratory and approximately $11 million to TRIUMF to advance research. In addition, the BC Cancer Foundation has provided $3.5 million to support capital investments and $15 million in funding for critical cancer research, for a total of $50.5 million.

“These investments in the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes, which leverage TRIUMF’s world-class research community and over five decades of established expertise in cyclotron operations and isotope research, will have a profound impact in improving care for B.C. patients and positioning our province as the driving force in Canada’s nuclear medicine research ecosystem,” said Nigel Smith, executive director and CEO, TRIUMF.

Construction of this facility is expected to be complete in 2025 with equipment installation, commissioning and Health Canada licensing to be completed in 2026.

“This project demonstrates the power of philanthropy to advance both our ability to better diagnose patients and to provide precision treatments that improve outcomes, and we are so grateful to our donor community for supporting such an important technology,” said Sarah Roth, president and chief executive officer, BC Cancer Foundation.

Quotes:

Dr. Kim Nguyen Chi, executive vice-president and chief medical officer, BC Cancer –

“Radioisotopes are key for cancer diagnostics and advanced imaging. They are critically important to helping physicians accurately diagnose and stage cancers and develop a personalized treatment plan, including the use of targeted therapies. This new facility will expand capacity and access to PET/CT across our province. For patients, this means more precision care and better outcomes.”

Dr. François Bénard, senior executive director of research, BC Cancer –

“This project has been a shared vision of many collaborators who worked for years to make this announcement possible. Once operational, the technology that we can produce in this facility and in partnership with TRIUMF will provide more people with consistent access to the resources they need for life-saving medical scans and further research pursuits that will benefit all Canadians.”

Paul Schaffer, director, Life Sciences Division, TRIUMF –

“With this infrastructure, we will increase the production of the medical isotopes used in routine diagnostic scans and emerging therapeutics, while adding research-focused laboratory capacity to support our research community in addressing existing and novel health-care challenges. The impact of this support will continue to emerge in the years and decades to come, much like how the initial investments into TRIUMF over 50 years ago continue to drive innovation today.”

Learn More:

To learn more about PET scans, visit:
http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/our-services/services/pet-functional-imaging

To learn more about TRIUMF, visit: https://fiveyearplan.triumf.ca/

To learn more about TRIUMF’s 40-year history of medical isotope production, watch:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSBIzbC5DKs&

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