Medical Isotopes Program Gets Boost from Ottawa

By Sarah Klein

Dr. Kennedy Mang'era
Dr. Kennedy Mang’era in the WRHA Radiopharmaceuticals Research Lab at the Health Sciences Centre. (HSC / HANDOUT)

A Manitoba research team has received $7.46 million to develop a new medical isotope supply for Canada.

The federal government is providing Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise Inc. (PIPE) with the funding towards their $11.7 million project to develop more affordable isotopes that are also safer and more reliable for the Canadian market.

Two new linear accelerators will be used to develop PIPE’s isotopes, as opposed to producing them in nuclear reactors using enriched uranium as the raw material.

PIPE is a partnership between the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg , University of Winnipeg and Acsion Industries (Pinawa).

“The isotope supply from the two principal nuclear reactors in Canada and The Netherlands is unreliable and adds an unacceptable supply risk to Canadian patients,” said Dr. Kennedy Mang’era, head of the WRHA’s Radiopharmaceuticals Research Group. “Linear accelerator technology is an innovative, inexpensive and environmentally friendly approach to isotope production.”

Medical isotopes are used to treat one in three patients who enter a hospital by way of a nuclear medicine procedure.