An Important Part of Patient Care
Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) is the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), used annually in the United States alone for more than 13 million nuclear medicine procedures. These procedures include medical imaging applications that benefit more than 50,000 patients a day by improving disease detection and staging capabilities and enhancing the understanding of a disease’s functional impact within the body.
Medical imaging applications
Examples of use for Tc-99m:
- Myocardial Perfusion Imaging
- Sentinal Node Mapping
- Hepatobiliary Imaging
- Inflammation and Infection Imaging
Rapid expansion is occurring in the nuclear medicine field. In fact, market potential is estimated to reach $10 billion, with an annual growth rate over 10 percent per year for the next five years. However, supply interruptions and sourcing concerns pose a serious threat to continued growth, and innovation in patient care.
“In order to ensure that patient needs are not compromised, a continuous reliable supply of medical radioisotopes is essential.”
Letter from Society of Nuclear Medicine to U.S. Senate, July 2010
The U.S. currently does not have a domestic production capability for Mo-99 and must import 100 percent of its supply from foreign producers, most of which use highly enriched uranium (HEU) in their production processes. Technical difficulties and shutdowns at major production facilities, as well as the possibility of older reactors ending production, illustrate the need to establish a reliable supply of Mo-99.
A Promising Future Focused on Cure
An important additional and evolving use of radioisotopes is in the treatment of disease.
There is a fundamental belief that cancer, leukemia, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and more can be treated—and possibly cured—through the use of molecules that seek and attach radioisotopes to tumors and cancerous growths. Through this process, radioactivity can be delivered directly to the cells that require treatment, with minimal damage to nearby tissue.