ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. An Albuquerque startup company has licensed a Sandia National Laboratories technology that offers a way to make molybdenum-99, a key radioactive isotope needed for diagnostic imaging in nuclear medicine, in the United States. Known as moly 99, it is made in aging nuclear reactors outside the country, and concerns about future shortages have been in the news for years.
Eden Radioisotopes LLC was founded last year and licensed the Sandia moly 99 reactor conceptual design in November. It hopes to build the first U.S. reactor for making the isotope and become a global supplier.
"One of the pressing reasons for starting this company is the moly 99 shortages that are imminent in the next few years," said Chris Wagner, Eden's chief operating officer and a 30-year veteran of the medical-imaging industry. "We really feel this is a critical time period to enter the market and supply replacement capacity for what is going offline."
Moly 99 is the precursor for the radioactive isotope technetium-99m, used extensively in medical diagnostic tests because it emits a gamma ray that can be tracked in the body, letting physicians create images of the spread of a disease. And it decays quickly so patients are exposed to little radiation.
Moly 99 is made in commercial nuclear reactors using weapon-grade uranium and 50 to 100 megawatts of power. Neutrons bombard the uranium-235 target. The uranium fissions and produces a moly 99 atom about 6 percent of the time. Moly 99 is extracted from the reactor through a chemical process in a hot-cell facility and used by radiopharmaceutical manufacturers worldwide to produce moly 99/technetium-99m generators. The moly 99, with a 66-hour half-life, decays to technetium-99m, with a six-hour half-life. The generators are shipped to hospitals, clinics and radiopharmacies, which make individual unit doses for use in a wide variety of patient-imaging procedures.
"It's a $4 billion a ye
|Contact: Nancy Salem|
DOE/Sandia National Laboratories