New cancer ‘tracer’ promises to detect more tumours earlier

Ramona Czakert Franson - 29 November 2022

U of A researchers’ easier-to-produce compound for cancer diagnostic imaging is ready for patient use and may soon reduce wait times in Alberta.

For people waiting for imaging tests to diagnose neuroendocrine cancer, time is of the essence. Now, thanks to researchers at the University of Alberta, a new medical imaging agent for PET scans promises to reduce wait times, while costing less to produce and possibly revealing more of some types of cancer tumours.

Ralf Schirrmacher, an oncology imaging professor and member of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta, and his team at the Medical Isotope and Cyclotron Facility on the U of A’s South Campus have been using a state-of-the-art cyclotron — a machine that already supplies the province with medical isotopes used in diagnostic scans — to create a new imaging compound that will reveal cancer tumours when patients receive a PET or PET-MRI scan.