PSI Senior Member in Cancer Breakthrough Team

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Professor Karl Erdmann, a senior member of Principia Scientific International (PSI) is part of the Canadian research term now widely feted in Canada for their important breakthrough in the medical isotope race towards better cancer treatment.

Karl Erdmann and the Medical Cyclotron

Canada’s national news broadcaster, CBC News has reported (Jun 9, 2013) that Professor Erdman and his colleagues at Advanced Cyclotron Systems “have reached an important milestone in the development of a new source of medical isotopes that does not rely on Canada’s aging nuclear reactors. Radioisotopes are vital diagnostic tools used on 30,000 Canadians each week to detect medical conditions such as cancer or heart disease.”

The modest Professor Erdman, a key figure from the outset, told PSI, I have never been one that has craved publicity. I didn’t know it was going to be on the news and didn’t really see the photographer as one of the technicians was explaining to me how he had changed a design of a part of the measuring apparatus in the system.”

Radioisotopes are vital diagnostic tools used on 30,000 Canadians each week to detect medical conditions such as cancer or heart disease.This new device promises to provide large-scale production of TC-99m, the isotope needed for medical imaging such as CT scans.

The CBC story adds, “We’ve demonstrated we can make enough isotopes for the Vancouver area on a routine, reliable basis,” said François Bénard, scientific director of the centre for functional cancer imaging at the Cancer Agency. Older cyclotrons are as large as a football field, but the new machines can fit in a couple of rooms in a hospital.

Canada supplies most of the world’s medical isotopes from it’s Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River research reactor. In 2009, an unplanned shutdown at the aging facility triggered a worldwide shortage.First invented in 1932 the cyclotron was developed to produce medical isotopes. But what the Advanced Cyclotron Systems team has done is show how this system can this be scaled up to a truly industrial process level. Erdman and his team have ensured that it is now feasible to attach a cyclotron to a hospital facility, so short lived isotopes can be delivered to the medical community quickly.

François Bénard says the team’s production breakthrough with its medical cyclotron demonstrates a possible route to stabilizing the global supply of isotopes.

“What this does in practice is that it provides a path to not only replace isotope production from reactors to accelerators or cyclotrons, but also diversify the supply because then people will no longer be dependent on a single supplier supplying half of the world market,” he said.

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