San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
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How do you solve a global medical crisis with a particle accelerator?
Our healthcare system is currently experiencing a revolution in the use and development of medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of acute and chronic diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. The impressive recent growth and the spectacular future potential of isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals for medicine are predicated on the widespread availability of isotope-production facilities to drive research and development.
(An isotope is a particular "flavour" of a chemical element. Radioisotopes are radioactive flavours, and are useful in many different technologies, such as smoke detectors, and radiocarbon dating, as well as nuclear medicine. A radiopharmaceutical is a biological chemical synthesized including one or more radioisotopes.)
TRIUMF specializes in medical isotope production with cyclotron particle accelerators, which is becoming the new norm in Canada and worldwide. As of 2013, there were nearly 900 cyclotrons operational in hospitals across 6 continents, enabling 3 to 6 million medical imaging scans yearly. In contrast, a handful of aging reactors use enriched uranium for the production of technetium-99m, which is used in 20-40 million medical scans each year. Canadian innovators are leading the way in demonstrating that the world’s existing cyclotron infrastructure is also capable of producing technetium-99m, and may be a viable alternative to reactors in the very near future.
This talk will outline the science behind medical isotope production and radiopharmaceutical synthesis, and will discuss current isotopes and how they are used. The history of past isotope shortages will be explained, as well as the efforts of Canadian scientists seeking to creating a stable isotope supply with widely-available cyclotrons. The talk will conclude with an overview of exciting new radiopharmaceuticals currently in or near clinical trials, radiotracers that can serve as alternatives to Tc-99m imaging agents, as well as new, targeted tracers for the diagnosis and staging of various diseases.
Dr. Paul Schaffer is the Division Head of the Nuclear Medicine program at TRIUMF, Canada’s national lab for particle and nuclear physics in Vancouver. Dr. Schaffer obtained his chemistry Ph.D. in 2003 at McMaster University in Ontario, after first obtaining his B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia in 1998 . His doctoral work focused on the design and synthesis of potential new radioactive imaging or therapy agents. He went on to be responsible for demonstrating medical applications for isotopes produced at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, followed in 2006 as Lead Scientist at General Electric Global Research in upstate NY where he was responsible for developing novel radioisotope tracers for GE Healthcare. Dr. Schaffer joined TRIUMF in 2009, where he is now responsible for maintaining TRIUMF’s medical isotope and radiotracer production programs in support of neurological and oncology research For his leadership in the field Dr. Schaffer was recently recognized as one of British Columbia’s Top Forty under 40 by Business in Vancouver magazine. He continues to redefine the TRIUMF nuclear-medicine program as a leader, an entrepreneur and one of British Columbia's most promising scientific talents.
In cooperation with ARPICO and the Consul General of Italy in Vancouver