NorthStar to Produce Mo-99 Isotope

The Business Journal
Published: Monday, September 12, 2011, 2:55pm CDT

NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC, a Madison nuclear medicine company, has signed a tentative agreement for its Beloit facility to process radioactive material into a key isotope used for medical procedures.

The material, molybdenum-99, would be produced by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Exelon Corp. at a nuclear power plant in Clinton, Ill. GE Hitachi, of Wilmington, N.C., and Chicago-based Exelon, owner of the power plant, are studying the feasibility of producing the material at the plant to help address a shortage of the medical isotope used in millions of medical procedures each year.

Molybdenum-99, or Mo-99, decays into technetium-99m, an isotope used in about 85 percent of all nuclear medicine procedures, including evaluation of the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen, bones and blood flow. GE Hitachi and the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's Global Threat Reduction Initiative are developing a domestic source of Mo-99 that does not rely on using highly enriched uranium -- advancing a key non-proliferation initiative for the United States.

After leaving the reactor, the Mo-99 would be transported in specialized licensed shipping containers to one or more processing facilities, where it is placed in a form that can be sent to nuclear pharmacies around the country. GE Hitachi said it has signed memoranda of understanding with NuView Life Sciences' facility in Denton, Texas, and NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes' facility in Beloit, as potential processors of the Mo-99.

"The introduction of NorthStar's generator technology into this process, and the complementing of GEH and Exelon's production efforts with NorthStar's parallel production efforts, should dramatically aid the success of both of our programs," said George Messina, NorthStar's chairman and CEO. "This represents a great opportunity for the local work force in Wisconsin's Beloit and Rock County."