07/03/2013 12:12 EDT | Updated 09/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Medical Isotopes Edmonton: University Of Alberta Opens Cyclotron, Joins Isotope Production

University of Alberta

EDMONTON - The University of Alberta has opened a new cyclotron facility at its south Edmonton campus.

The facility will make a reliable supply of medical isotopes for diagnostic imaging.

A shutdown of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.'s Chalk River research reactor in 2009 caused a worldwide shortage of the medical isotopes used to detect cancer and heart ailments.

Ottawa has said isotope production at the Ontario facility will end in 2016.

Sandy McEwan, lead researcher for the Edmonton cyclotron, says the plan for the future is to establish a network of perhaps a dozen cyclotrons across the country supplying medical isotopes.

Ottawa contributed $10.9 million toward the Edmonton facility while the province provided another $5.4 million.

McEwan said the cyclotron is currently being commissioned but should be licensed and fully operational within a few months.

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