NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes Completes First Production-Scale Test Run of Molybdenum-99 Aliquoting System at the University of Missouri Research Reactor

  • Event is another milestone in the development of domestic production of the vital medical radioisotope.
  • Test demonstrates the ability to produce, package and ship Mo-99 orders to customers. Mo-99

MADISON, Wis. – NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC has completed 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, Missouri. The test and subsequent shipment of the resulting Mo-99 to NorthStar’s Madison facility is another milestone in the establishment of domestic production of the vital medical radioisotope.

“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, Ph.D., 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. Currently, nearly all Mo-99 is generated using weapons-useable highly enriched uranium (HEU) at aging facilities located outside of the United States, leading to chronic product shortages and creating safety and national security concerns.

NorthStar is developing two technologies for producing Mo-99 from the stable isotope molybdenum-98 without the use of HEU – a neutron capture process using the MURR facility and an electron accelerator process. NorthStar is making significant progress toward becoming the first commercial producer of Mo-99 in the United States in more than 25 years.

On May 4, 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 in good condition early on May 5 for inspection and recycling. Approximately 400 curies of Mo-99 were created for the test run; a curie is a unit of radioactivity, with one curie being roughly the activity of 1 gram of the radium isotope Ra-226.

NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC
Based in Madison, Wis., NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC (northstarnm.com) was founded in 2006 to address the needs of the nuclear medicine market in the United States. A wholly owned subsidiary of NorthStar Medical Technologies LLC, the company is committed to resolving industry-wide supply challenges that have caused shortages of vital medical isotopes, negatively impacting patient care and stalling clinical research. Its patented technologies include innovative non-uranium based molybdenum-99 production methods, a novel separation chemistry system and tools for the nuclear medicine market.