NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC, Madison, Wis, announced completion of its first production-scale test run of the molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) aliquoting system installed at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) in Columbia, Mo.
The test and subsequent shipment of the radioisotope to NorthStar’s facility represent a major step in the establishment of domestic production of Mo-99.
“This week’s events proved that NorthStar, working in concert with MURR, can seamlessly produce, package and ship customers’ orders of Mo-99,” said James Harvey, NorthStar senior vice president and chief science officer.
Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. Nearly all Mo-99 is generated using weapons-useable highly enriched uranium (HEU) at facilities located outside of the United States, causing product shortages in addition to drawing safety and national security concerns.
NorthStar is in the process of developing two technologies for producing Mo-99 from the stable isotope molybdenum-98without the use of HEU. Specifically, the company is using a neutron capture process at the MURR facility and an electron accelerator process. According to the company, it is making significant progress toward becoming the first commercial producer of Mo-99 in the United States in more than 25 years.
Earlier this month, the aliquoting system was used to fill several depleted uranium (DU) source vessels and one tungsten source vessel with Mo-99. The DU source vessels were then packaged and shipped to NorthStar’s facility in Madison, where they arrived the next day in good condition for inspection and recycling.
Approximately 400 curies of Mo-99 were created for the test run.
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