A Diagnostics & Imaging Week
Advanced Medical Isotope (AMIC; Kennewick, Washington) reported it has entered into an agreement for the development of a compact device to produce radioisotopes with the University of Missouri (MU; Columbia).
The University of Missouri holds intellectual property for a system than can generate clinically relevant quantities of radioisotopes (including Mo-99), the production of which normally requires a nuclear reactor. This can be done in a "sub-critical system'' (technically and legally not a nuclear reactor, thus avoiding significant and costly regulations) with an infrastructure footprint similar to a commercial cyclotron facility. The partnership between MU and AMIC allows for a staged development of such a system to produce medical, research, and industrial isotopes.
MU currently holds intellectual property for a device that generates neutrons in a tank filled with heavy water and fissile uranium material. Current simple models indicate that at least 500 curies (Ci) of Mo-99 would be available from such a system after a one week period of operation, and the potential exists for even higher production levels. More extensive modeling and simulations are necessary, however, to confirm this possibility. Significant quantities of other useful radioisotopes, such as various radio-iodines and radioactive xenon, are expected to be generated as well.
According to projections by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. requires at least 5000 Ci of Mo-99 each week to meet current demands and demand is expected to grow at a minimum of 5-10% in the coming years. The radioisotope that is the active ingredient in the vast bulk of imaging radiopharmaceuticals in the USA is Tc-99m, a short-lived isotope derived from Mo-99. The Tc-99m that comes from Mo-99 is used in approximately 80%-85% of the world's diagnostic imaging procedures, almost 13 million procedures a year.