At the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) 2016 Mo-99 Topical Meeting in St. Louis, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC Senior Vice President and Chief Science Officer James Harvey, Ph.D. will report on the company’s progress toward establishing a domestic supply of the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) produced without the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU).
Harvey will speak during a session titled “Current and Future Supply Chain Outlook – Session II,” to be held at 3:30 p.m. today. He will focus on the neutron capture production process that NorthStar is developing in collaboration with the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) in Columbia, Missouri. He will provide an overview of the process and an update on progress toward its commercialization.
At the annual Mo-99 Topical Meeting, international and domestic policy and technical experts gather to present and discuss advancements toward achieving the production of Mo-99 without the use of HEU.
Molybdenum-99 and NorthStar’s Neutron Capture Production Process
Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. Tc-99m is used in approximately 40,000 procedures worldwide daily to diagnose and stage cancer, heart disease, infection, inflammation and other conditions.
Currently, all Mo-99 is produced overseas and most is produced in aging reactors using weapons-usable HEU, creating safety and national security concerns and the risk of product shortages. NorthStar is developing two non-uranium-, non-fission-based production processes that would help establish the first domestic supply of Mo-99 since 1989.
The company’s neutron capture production process uses a high-flux neutron reactor – such as the one at MURR – to add a neutron to the nucleus of stable, naturally occurring molybdenum-98 (Mo-98), creating Mo-99. The Mo-99 is extracted from the target and purified, and then moved to the NorthStar dispensing operation housed in the same facility. The Mo-99 is dissolved into a solution, which is packaged and delivered to radiopharmacies. There, NorthStar’s RadioGenix™ intelligent isotope separation system is used to extract Tc-99m for use in nuclear medicine procedures. The production process generates only a minimal and benign waste stream, the disposal of which is safe and inexpensive.
NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC
Based in Beloit, Wisconsin, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC (northstarnm.com)was founded in 2006 to address the needs of the nuclear medicine market in the United States. A wholly owned subsidiary of NorthStar Medical Technologies LLC, the company is committed to resolving industry-wide supply challenges that have caused shortages of vital medical isotopes, negatively impacting patient care and stalling clinical research. Its patented technologies include innovative non-uranium based molybdenum-99 production methods, a novel separation chemistry system and tools for the nuclear medicine market.
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Last updated on: 13/09/2016
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