Ottawa earmarks $6 million for medical isotopes

OTTAWA, CANADA - The federal government will provide $6 million toward developing medical isotopes that could eventually replace the kind in short supply since the shutdown of the aging nuclear reactor at Chalk River.

"Our government is taking several measures to address the medical needs of Canadians during this medical isotope shortage," Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement. "One course of action we are actively pursuing is funding research that would provide alternatives to the principal isotope produced at Chalk River."

The initiative would not deal with the current shortage of technetium-99, the decay product of the molybdenum-99 medical isotope produced at Chalk River that is used in the majority of nuclear medicine procedures.

The money would not begin to flow until after the 52-year-old National Research Universal reactor is expected to be back up and running in the fall.

The research money will be delivered by two granting councils: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The deadline to apply for funding is September 15 and the money would start October 31.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. extended an unexpected shutdown of the reactor after discovering a heavy-water leak.

AECL expects the reactor to be out of service for at least three months.


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