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Government of Canada supports research to help address medical isotope shortage

This release is available in French.

OTTAWA (June 16, 2009) The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, announced today that the Government of Canada is supporting research to find alternatives to nuclear-produced Technetium-99m, the principal medical isotope affected by the current shutdown at the Chalk River nuclear reactor. Health professionals use medical isotopes in combination with imaging technologies to diagnose and treat conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

The initiative announced today is a partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC).

"Our government is taking several measures to address the medical needs of Canadians during this medical isotope shortage," said Minister Aglukkaq. "One course of action we are actively pursuing is funding research that would provide alternatives to the principal medical isotope produced at Chalk River."

The Government of Canada is providing $6 million towards this research initiative which will advance research into alternative, non-nuclear, medical isotopes that could replace Technetium-99m in certain medical imaging procedures and support the production and clinical testing of these alternatives.

"Canadian health researchers and clinicians are world leaders in the development and use of imaging technologies," said Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of CIHR. "We are pleased to support this effort to find solutions that will address the needs of Canadians."

"We are proud to be a partner in this initiative," says Dr. Suzanne Fortier, President of NSERC. "This is a complex, multidisciplinary issue. Involving experts from chemistry, physics, engineering and related fields will help advance discovery and innovation in this critical area."


Contact: Veronique Perron
Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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