Skip to content

Federal money for cancer research in Thunder Bay

Health research institute expanding technology base
Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute

The Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute received $1.85 million in federal funding to purchase equipment toward advancing innovative medical research in northwestern Ontario.

The new equipment will be used in bio-marker exploration and to evaluate the effectiveness of new treatment protocols using isotopes produced at the research institute’s cyclotron.

A cyclotron is a machine used to make radioisotopes (radioactive atoms) used for medical imaging and research.

Biomarker exploration involves a biomarker, or a drug, entering the body and seeking out cancer cells at the molecular level.

Using an MRI, or other imaging tools, any cancerous cells that exist will light up, making early detection possible through non-invasive techniques.

It allows scientists and clinicians to define disease-specific therapeutics and customize individual therapy.

The institution believes the funding will also move the yardsticks toward enabling them to establish more partnerships, chase opportunities for contractual research and clinical trials, and spur a variety of new research and development projects.

Fifteen jobs will be created from the project and 10 more indirectly through related research at the institution, at Lakehead University, and at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

In a March 15 news release, Jean Bartkowiak, CEO of the institute and of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, said funding bio-marker and probe development research brings “discovery to life” for scientists and clinician-investigators.

“Our cyclotron and radiopharmacy expands our research capacity, and will eliminate our hospital’s dependence upon outside sources of radioactive isotopes used for specific diagnostic imaging procedures. Patients will benefit now, and in the future.”

The cyclotron, installed in February 2015, produces isotopes used in medical research and clinical application, as well as the development of medical devices and related treatment options.

“Canada has no shortage of innovative thinkers, top-notch researchers or creative entrepreneurs,” said Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Don Rusnak in a statement.

“This is exemplified by the burgeoning Northwestern Ontario health sciences cluster led by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute and its many public and private partners. Today’s investment is recognition of the tremendous strides we’re making in fostering advanced medical research.”