- The Department of Science and Innovation will launch its South African Isotope Facility this week.
- The facility will enhance research and production of radiopharmaceutical products used to treat cancer.
- A new cyclotron also presents multiple opportunities for research, training and development of new cancer treatments.
Radioisotope therapy is the treatment of cancer through the use of pharmaceuticals that deliver radiation to cancerous cells causing minimal damage to the surrounding cells.
The production of radiopharmaceutical products is done by a few places in South Africa but iThemba Labs claims that it produces between 40 to 60 percent of the globe’s radiopharmaceutical products.
This week, the lab is set to receive something of an upgrade with the launch of the Department of Science and Innovation’s (DSI) South African Isotope Facility (SAIF).
“The facility will conduct advanced research and training capacity, as well as increase the production capacity for radioisotopes, including new-generation novel radioisotopes. In addition, SAIF has acquired a dedicated cyclotron with associated infrastructure for producing radioisotopes, thus freeing the existing separated sector cyclotron for full-time research and training,” said Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.
As per SA News, treatment manufactured by iThemba Labs currently helps 5 000 South African patients per year. With the investment made by DSI, this production could increase by a factor of five to seven.
More so, the facility will be able to research new treatments for cancer using this treatment.
However, SAIF won’t only be used to develop treatments for cancer. The facility will also conduct research into radiation hardness testing for space, research into nano-materials and research into sub-atomic physics according to the website.
The addition of the 70MeV Cyclotron to the facility can also be used to train young South Africans in Accelerator-Based Sciences and Technologies.
The SAIF will officially launch on Friday 9th June and it looks to be a valuable addition to not only the local medical sector, but our scientific research fraternity as well.