The University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) and its partners Nordion, a business of Sterigenics International, and General Atomics (GA), announce that MURR's License Amendment Request (LAR) has been submitted to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This marks a critical step towards implementing domestic US production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99). Once operational, production from this facility will be capable of supporting nearly half of US demand for Mo-99, which currently must be imported from outside North America.
Medical isotopes are used to diagnose and treat patients who suffer from a variety of conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Almost 50 million such procedures are performed every year. The most important isotope, technetium-99m, is produced from Mo-99 and is used in more than 80% of all nuclear medicine procedures.
"This LAR submission shows the NRC that we will have all of the technology, expertise, and safety measures needed to begin producing Mo-99 in place and ready to go once approval has been received," says Ralph Butler, executive director of MURR. "As a public research institution, we are proud to play a partnership role with GA and Nordion in helping America secure a new, domestic source of Mo-99."
Once approved by the NRC, MURR will begin producing Mo-99 using selective gaseous extraction, a proprietary technology developed by GA to extract the isotope from Low Enriched Uranium targets. This will produce Mo-99 of the highest specific activity, while avoiding the production of liquid uranium waste, a significant problem with existing technologies that require Highly Enriched Uranium. Extracted Mo-99 will be transported to Nordion's facility in Ottawa, Ontario, for final purification and distribution to radiopharmaceutical manufacturers, after which it will be distributed to hospitals and medical facilities around the world.
"We will start receiving Mo-99 from MURR in mid- to late-2018," says Phil Larabie, vice president of medical isotopes for Nordion. "Filing this license amendment is a key step in our efforts to stabilize and support the nuclear medicine community in North America and beyond for decades to come."
In addition, Nordion is maintaining its conventional Mo-99 processing capacity through March 31, 2018, in the event of a significant global shortage of Mo-99.
The MURR project is being conducted with the active support of the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, which was mandated to help secure a new, reliable domestic supply of Mo-99 by the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2012.
SOURCE: Nordion (Canada) Inc.