[By: Joseph Hall – News reporter, Toronto Star]
The University Health Network’s gleaming new cyclotron, nestled in its concrete cocoon in the basement of Toronto General Hospital. The machine is part of a process that will soon be creating medical isotopes for both immediate patient care and cutting-edge research.
It’s the size of an industrial furnace, this new machine.
Surrounded by two metres of concrete shielding, it will accelerate atomic particles to velocities approaching the speed of light and send them hurtling in high energy streams at a host of target materials to create highly unstable, radioactive isotopes.
Within minutes or hours, doctors at the Toronto General Hospital and other nearby facilities will then calmly inject these radioactive creations into cancer or heart patients to locate and image their ailments.
The University Health Network’s new cyclotron, which began a lengthy testing process last month, will create these radioactive elements directly on site.
It could also lead to improved imaging for a host of other diseases at hospitals around the world, ushering in novel radioactive compounds for the detection and treatment of new and varied ailments.
The UHN has lagged behind other major Canadian and international centres in the types of radiation scanning strategies the cyclotron can promote, says UHN president Dr. Bob Bell.
The new machine will not only allow his hospitals to catch up, but to pole vault into the forefront of treatment and research in the medical isotopes field, Bell says.
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