Building a Cyclotron machine to support new diagnostic testing

Dr. David JaffreyMolecular imaging is a very valuable tool for researchers at The Princess Margaret who are evaluating new cancer therapies.  The current method of molecular imaging combines a radioactive beacon with a disease-indicating molecule.  Once these tracers are injected into the body, physicians can use a CT/PET scanner to reveal the location of any abnormalities.  They can also see if tumours have shrunk in response to treatment.

The most widely-used imaging molecule today is called FDG (flurodeoxyglucose), a radioactive glucose which can disclose areas in the body that are using more glucose than normal—often a sign of cancer.

The effectiveness of molecular imaging in detecting and staging tumours is moving it into mainstream use.  Ontario health policy is expected to approve the use of molecular imaging as a diagnostic tool, following the lead of British Columbia and Quebec.  However, FDG and other radiopharmaceuticals have short ‘half lives’ and must be used almost immediately in order for them to have any effect.

Dr. David Jaffray, The Orey and Mary Fidani Family Chair in Radiation Physics, has secured $6 milllion of the $10 million in funding required to build a Cyclotron facility that will allow the University Health Network (of which The Princess Margaret is a partner) to provide a sufficient and stable pipeline of the radioisotopes required to perform this new type of imaging. 

Construction of this facility would not have been possible without the support of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and specifically the thousands of participants and donors involved in The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.