Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) is the most widely used medical radioisotope. Its parent isotope, molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), faces multiple supply challenges.
Technetium-99m (Tc-99m) is the most widely used medical radioisotope. Tc-99m is critical for patients in need of important diagnostic tests and used primarily for medical imaging as well as for medical research. It is used to diagnose and stage serious medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, infection and inflammation. Tc-99m is used in more than 40,0001 imaging procedures daily in the United States and at least an equal number of procedures throughout the rest of the world. Cardiac imaging is standard of care and represents approximately 80% of those 40,000 imaging procedures performed daily in the United States using Tc-99m.
Overseas Supply Challenges
For more than 25 years, the U.S. supply of Mo-99 has been solely reliant on aging nuclear reactors located outside the United States. The resultant frequent and sometimes prolonged supply interruptions disrupt healthcare for patients in need of medically important diagnostic tests that use these isotopes.
Stable supply solutions – NorthStar’s Mo-99 used by the RadioGenixTM System (technetium Tc 99m generator) is non-uranium based and independent of the reliance that other producers have on variable overseas production as well as international transportation issues.
National security challenges
The current U.S. Mo-99 supply is based on enriched-uranium. Securing a reliable domestic supply for Mo-99 is a national priority for the United States. Under provisions of the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2012, efforts have been made to establish domestic production of Mo-99 and to promote the use of Mo-99 produced without use of highly enriched uranium, which has been deemed a nuclear proliferation risk by Congress. The Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has developed a program which has as one of its objectives to help assure a reliable U.S. domestic Mo-99 supply.
NorthStar’s technology uses stable isotopes of molybdenum, rather than enriched uranium, thereby avoiding the national security and environmental risks associated with enriched-uranium. Through a process called “neutron capture,” the stable isotope Mo-98 can be irradiated to form Mo-99, the relatively short-lived radioactive isotope from which medically useful Tc-99m is generated. This is the current Mo-99 production process in place.
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Enriched-uranium based production methods are associated with significant toxic and long-lived radioactive waste streams.
NorthStar’s manufacturing process provides an environmentally friendly solution for Mo-99 supply, producing benign and recyclable waste streams.