2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: Medical isotopes production and applications

The Monday session “Advancement in Medical Isotopes Production and Applications” of the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting was sponsored by the Isotopes & Radiation Division and co-chaired by Lin-Wen Hu of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and James Bowen of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Radioisotopes produced from nuclear reactors and accelerators are widely used for medical diagnostics and cancer therapy. Technetium-99m (decay product of molybdenum-99), for example, is used in more than 80 percent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures. The session featured speakers who discussed the advancement and status of domestic production and applications of medical isotopes.

NRC expected to issue Mo-99 facility license for Shine in 2021

Shine Medical Technologies, which is building a medical isotope production facility in Janesville, Wis., said on May 11 that it expects to have an operating license issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by October 2021. Shine’s application seeking approval to operate the facility, which will produce isotopes including molybdenum-99, was accepted and docketed by the NRC last October. Mo-99, the precursor to technetium-99m, is used in more than 40 million medical patient procedures every year.

IRE produces first batch of LEU-based Mo-99

Belgium’s National Institute of Radioelements (IRE) announced on April 30 that it has produced its first batch of commercial molybdenum-99 from low-enriched uranium (LEU) targets. The first batch of Mo-99, whose decay product, technetium-99m, is used in nuclear medicine for diagnostic imaging, was produced for the U.S. health market. IRE said that the conversion to LEU represents a key milestone for the institute in the global commitment to end the civilian use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for the production of Mo-99.

Mo-99 supply put at risk by COVID-19 pandemic

The U.S. healthcare industry is warning that the COVID-19 pandemic may threaten supplies of the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99, whose decay product, technetium-99m, is considered the workhorse isotope in nuclear medicine for diagnostic imaging. The online magazine Radiology Business recently reported that the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (ASNC) alerted its members on April 1 that it is monitoring supply shortages of Mo-99 “more closely than ever” during the pandemic.