NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, a producer and distributor of radioisotopes for medical imaging, has secured $15m (£12m) funding in a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA).
NorthStar said that the funding is part of DOE/NNSA’s industry outreach initiative to establish reliable domestic molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) production without the use of highly enriched uranium.
In addition, it is planning use the funds to further advance its current neutron capture technology to enable non-uranium based production of the medical radioisotope Mo-99.
NorthStar president and chief executive officer Stephen Merrick said: “We greatly appreciate this new cooperative agreement award and the continued financial and technical support provided by DOE/NNSA, which will help NorthStar expand Mo-99 production capacity and efficiency, as well as support enhancements to the RadioGenix System to continue optimizing utility in radiopharmacies.
“Like DOE/NNSA, NorthStar shares a vision of protecting national security and the environment while providing the nuclear medicine community and the patients it serves with a reliable domestic supply of Mo-99 produced without highly enriched uranium.”
The company is also expected to use the funds for the development of improvements for the FDA-approved and commercially available RadioGenix System (technetium 99m generator).
The RadioGenix System is an advanced separation platform that uses reliable, domestic, non-uranium based Mo-99 to provide the widely used diagnostic imaging radioisotope, technetium 99m (Tc 99m).
In addition, the system is approved for processing non-uranium/non-highly enriched uranium based molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) for the production of technetium-99m (Tc-99m).
DOE/NNSA supports the production of reliable domestic supply of Mo-99 without the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the US and is providing $15m (£12m) for each of four cooperative agreements awarded under a recent Funding Opportunity Announcement, with support from Congress.
In addition, the current agreement is capped at a $30m (£24m) total in funds from both parties, as with all DOE/NNSA cooperative agreements for domestic Mo-99 partners.
NorthStar senior vice president and chief science officer James T. Harvey said: “NorthStar’s enriched Mo-98 neutron capture program is one facet of our multi-pronged approach to increase domestic Mo-99 production capacity across multiple processing platforms, and we anticipate that the program will enable at least a four-fold increase in our Mo-99 production capability, pending appropriate licensures and regulatory approval.
“Enriched Mo-98 is produced by increasing the concentration of the Mo-98 isotope in natural molybdenum to more than 95% Mo-98. Then, using neutron capture technology, the enriched Mo-98 is converted to the medically useful radioisotope, Mo-99. Like other NorthStar Mo-99 processes, our Mo-98 neutron capture methodologies are non-uranium based.”