Ottawa and Victoria team up to fund nuclear medicine hub

After touring the TRIUMF particle accelerator facility at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $10.23 million in new federal funding to develop the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes (IAMI), a nuclear medicine hub at the facility. 
By Albert Van Santvoort
Monday, November 5, 2018

“As a bit of a science geek myself, it’s very cool to be in the place and see it first hand,” said Trudeau. “The new IAMI will unite world leading experts across industry, academia and government who will now be able to collaborate to create better diagnostic tools and new treatments for cancer and other critical illnesses.”

The Trudeau announcement comes as TRIUMF celebrates its 50th anniversary. He follows in the footsteps of his father who was at the facility for the commissioning of a particle accelerator in 1978.

Ottawa is not alone in funding the new project. The provincial government will contribute an additional $12.25 million, TRIUMF will contribute $5.35 million and other fundraising initiatives through UBC and the BC Cancer Agency will each contribute $2 million. The money will go towards creating a new research facility that will house a particle accelerator and six labs.

 

The project aims to create the next generation of cancer therapies by developing what’s called targeted radionuclide therapies, a radioactive atom combined with a cell targeting molecule that seeks out and destroys cancer cells. These therapies can be used to treat a variety of cancers including breast and prostate cancer.

“IAMI will provide the facilities necessary to connect [lab] bench to bedside and translate scientific breakthroughs into real-world treatments for cancer and other diseases,” said Jonathan Bagger director of TRIUMF, in a press release.

In addition to contributing to the further development of nuclear medicine, the facility will act as a critical piece of infrastructure to help secure isotope supplies for not only Canada, but globally. The goal is not only to help develop Canada’s nuclear medicine and biotech industries but also position the country as a key player in this global market.

TRIUMF is Canada’s particle accelerator and research lab that is owned by a consortium of universities, private sector collaborators and public sector agencies. The research centre has made multiple breakthroughs in medical isotopes including developing a method to continuously supply medical isotopes through the use of particle accelerators.

While no specific numbers were provided, Trudeau said in his announcement that the innovation at the new facility would create jobs and spark entrepreneurship. Signalling to the upcoming federal election, Trudeau promoted the carbon tax and took at swipe at the previous government for its treatment of scientists.

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