Construction of University of Saskatchewan cyclotron completed

Watch above: Owned by the University of Saskatchewan and operated by the Fedoruk Centre, the $25-million cyclotron facility will produce medical radioisotopes for the PET-CT scanner at Royal University Hospital. Amber Rockliffe explains how it will help diagnose and treat a variety of conditions and diseases.

SASKATOON – The $25-million Saskatchewan Centre for Cyclotron Sciences held a tour Friday marking the end of its construction phase in Saskatoon. Saskatchewan’s minister responsible for innovation, Jeremy Harrison, said it gives the province unique research capabilities.

“It could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease,” he explained.

The centre will produce radioisotopes for the PET-CT scanner at Royal University Hospital, allowing doctors to take three-dimensional pictures of patients to diagnose their conditions and improve treatments.

“Over a period of time, we’ll be developing a research community that will allow us to investigate better ways of imaging disease within humans,” said Neil Alexander, the Sylvia Fedoruk Canadian Centre of Nuclear Innovation executive director.

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The facility, on the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) campus, will also supply radioisotopes for the development of drug molecules that can be tracked and observed in people’s bodies.

“Radiopharmaceuticals are simply drugs that contain a little bit of radioactivity,” said Paul Babyn, head of medical imaging at the U of S.

“We can then visualize where that drug is, because it’s decaying over time and giving off energy that we can detect with our imaging equipment,” Babyn explained.

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The facility is owned by the U of S and operated by the Fedoruk Centre.

“We’re now going to build a team of researchers. We’re recruiting from around the world, and we strongly believe that the combination of the infrastructure of the centre, and the team that we’re going to be able to create, will put us amongst global leaders,” said Alexander.

The cyclotron is roughly the size of a small car and sits in the centre of the facility, surrounded by concrete walls that are two-and-a-half metres thick. The facility is expected to produce its first radioisotopes for research use in the spring of 2015 and the first commercial ones for medical care in late 2016.

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