Prairie Isotope Production Enterprise – PIPE Overview

PIPE is a not-for-profit corporation based in Manitoba. Our goal is to develop a reliable supply of the medical radioisotope technetium-99m (Tc-99m) for Canadian patients.

Benefits to Canadians

  1. Domestic supplier focused on serving only Canadian patients.
  2. Multiple production facilities across the country to ensure a continuous supply of products.
  3. No radioactive waste streams; all materials will be recycled.

Tc-99m, which is obtained from the decay of its parent isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), is the most widely used medical isotope for medical imaging and accounts for approximately 80% of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures in Canada. Tc-99m performs a critical role in the diagnosis of heart disease and is also used in cancer diagnosis through bone and organ scans. Mo-99 is currently produced by a small number of research reactors around the world including the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario.

PIPE’s technology uses an electron accelerator rather than a nuclear reactor to make the Mo-99. The electron accelerator, a radiation generating machine that accelerates electrons to very high energies, sprays electricity onto molybdenum metal, which produces the Mo-99 radioisotope. Next, a chemical process is used to fabricate the Tc-99m compounds for hospitals and clinics across the country.

Our process has no radioactive wastes that need to be managed like the current production methods that use uranium as a starting material. In fact, this process includes recycling where everything comes back to PIPE to be used again.

PIPE is led by a world-class scientific team with impressive technical expertise. The technology was developed in our national laboratories and provincial institutes. PIPE was formed to insure the application of this technology to the provision of a solution in creating a reliable supply of Tc-99m for Canadian patients.

As a not-for-profit organization, PIPE is also committed to working with other manufacturers in Canada to convert their products to useful Tc-99m sources. The goal is to make sure Canada has a multi-pronged solution to protect Canadian patients from future supply disruptions.