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New way found to create medical isotopes

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Canadian medical researchers have found a way to create medical diagnostic isotopes without the need for nuclear technology.

The news emerged Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, where Dr. Francois Benard of the British Columbia Cancer Agency said existing cyclotron technology has been adapted to create the isotopes, Postmedia News reported.

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Traditionally, nuclear power plants were used to create technetium-99m for diagnosis and treatment of cancers and heart disease.

Benard said two of Canada's 12 hospital cyclotrons in British Columbia and Ontario have manufactured technetium-99m using molybdenum-100. The cyclotrons use large electromagnets to make the sub-atomic transformation, the report said.

"It's essentially a win-win scenario for healthcare," Benard said. "We have found a practical, simple solution that can use existing infrastructure."

Canada has been the world leader in creating medical isotopes from its facility in Chalk River, Ontario, but the aging facility has been all but shut down for maintenance and upgrades.

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