The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: TRIUMF

Reactions to Canada’s 2010 Federal Budget

Reaction in the biotech and innovation community to the 2010 budget was generally positive, since they (we) got something in a year when most groups got nothing.  As Rob Annan put it over at Researcher Forum:

“What a difference a year makes… Funding increases, though relatively small, are made more significant by the context of spending restraint evidenced elsewhere in the budget.”

There was also much celebration of the demise of Section 116, including from BIOTECanada (pdf), and the CVCA, both of which had recommended the change, and from Communitech, the organization that represents Waterloo Region tech companies.  Mark McQueen over at Wellington Capital blasphemously refuses to hail the event as Our Salvation, pointing out that (1) there has been a lot of investment by U.S. VCs even with 116 in place, (2) U.S. VCs aren’t having a great year either, and (3) those that are may not be as excited as we hope about early-stage Canadian deals.

Directly funded organizations wrote prompt thank-you notes:

  • TRIUMF, slated to receive $222 million over the next 5 years for its work on particle and nuclear physics, described the budget as a “firm commitment to science & technology.”
  • The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), seeing its $10 million in funding, characterized the move as an “investment in young entrepreneurs.”

Others, perhaps encouraged by this year’s $75 million allocated to Genome Canada following last year’s kerfuffle, have been quick to point out other flaws they perceive in the budget as well:

Medical Isotope Shortage Looms as Canada’s Chalk River Reactor Shuts Down

683px-Schematicky_atomAccording to a CBC News report today, Canada’s Chalk River nuclear reactor was shut down for a power outage last Thursday, and Friday inspectors noticed a heavy water leak at the base of the reactor.  The month-long shut down that will be needed for repairs means that only one reactor in the world, the HSR reactor in the Netherlands, will be producing medical isotopes.  The Netherlands reactor can only service about one-third of global demand, and much of its output is committed outside of North America under existing supply contracts.

Because the isotopes have a short half-life, they cannot be stockpiled and the shortage will begin to affect diagnostic capacity by this weekend.  Reactors in Belgium, France and South Africa are currently shut down as well.

A long-term solution may be available, if a joint effort by Canada’s TRIUMF accelerator lab and Ottawa-based medical isotope supplier MDS Nordion succeeds in trying to make the primary isotope (molybdenum–99) in a linear accelerator instead of in nuclear reactors. However, construction on the project doesn’t start until next year, and the first tests would not be until 2013.

An apparently similar effort is underway in a recently-announced collaboration between an Idaho company and Idaho State University.

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