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Sep 30, 2015
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) announced that it will award a cooperative agreement to General Atomics (GA) to support its project for domestic production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) without highly enriched uranium (HEU).
Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m, which is the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging and is used in approximately 80 percent of nuclear diagnostic imaging procedures in the United States, equating to about 50,000 medical procedures every day. The United States currently does not have a domestic production capability for Mo-99 and must import its supply from foreign producers. Under the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2012, and through its long-standing nonproliferation mission, NNSA is working to support the establishment of reliable supplies of Mo-99 while minimizing the use of HEU in civilian applications. This project with General Atomics meets both of these important goals.
NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington said, “This cooperative agreement exemplifies NNSA’s ongoing commitment to accelerate the establishment of domestic production of this important medical isotope, and demonstrates that the Government and commercial industry can work together to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation while providing stability to an important part of the medical radioisotope market. The development of commercial technologies to produce Mo-99 without the use of HEU will ensure that patients have access to the care they need while advancing global nuclear nonproliferation objectives.”
Originally selected for award through a 2010 Funding Opportunity Announcement, GA joins the suite of companies receiving NNSA funding to develop unique technical pathways to produce Mo-99 in the United States without the use of HEU. The award, under which NNSA will contribute $9.7 million, is provided via a cost-share arrangement, with GA and its partners matching NNSA funds dollar for dollar. The project is supported by the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR®), with its isotope production experience and reliable operating history, and Nordion, with North America’s only active Mo-99 purification capability. The collaborative project by GA, MURR, and Nordion combines the nuclear and radioisotope supply capabilities of MURR and Nordion with General Atomics’ selective gas extraction technology—which allows their low-enriched uranium (LEU) targets to remain in the reactor for repeated irradiation and extraction of Mo 99—to produce Mo-99 suitable for use in all existing Tc-99m generators. As with each of NNSA’s 50 percent/50 percent cost-shared projects, NNSA’s contribution under the GA cooperative agreement is capped at $25 million.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad. More information on NNSA efforts to establish a reliable supply of Mo-99 without the use of HEU can be found at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/factsheets/factsheet20100125
Feb. 20, 2015
OTTAWA (Feb 20, 2015) — Sterigenics International LLC and subsidiary Nordion, announced today agreements with General Atomics and the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center (MURR®) to establish a new, reliable supply of medical isotopes that will serve millions of patients around the world.
“Achieving a long-term supply of medical isotopes for our global customers has been our highest priority,” said Michael Mulhern, CEO, Sterigenics International LLC. “Our new partnerships with General Atomics and MURR very much reflect our ongoing commitment to improving global public health.”
“Today’s announcement will ensure Nordion has a secure long-term supply of medical isotopes, which will consolidate our leadership position in this business. That is great news for our company, for our employees, our customers and patients around the world,” said Mr. Tom Burnett, President, Medical Isotopes, Nordion. “Nordion has found what we believe is the best global solution for the industry – a combination of our best-in-class medical isotope capabilities, with the world-class nuclear reactor and innovative target design expertise of General Atomics and the unparalleled reliability of the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR), a leading U.S. research reactor centre and radioisotope supplier.”
A medical isotope is a safe radioactive substance used by health professionals to assist in the diagnosis of approximately 50 million patients in North America and around the world every year. The most important of these medical isotopes is technetium-99m (Tc-99m), derived from molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), used in more than 80 percent of all nuclear medicine procedures. Nordion pioneered the efforts to develop the first commercial supply of fission-based Mo-99, bringing it to market 40 years ago. This development enabled the dramatically expanded use of Tc-99m compounds and applications that have become the gold-standard in nuclear medicine today.
Nordion’s current supply of Mo-99 is from the National Research Universal reactor (NRU) at Chalk River, Ontario, operated by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). The NRU is scheduled to cease routine production of Mo-99 in November 2016. However the Government of Canada announced recently that it will support the extension of the NRU operations until March 31, 2018 to help support global medical isotope demand in the unexpected circumstances of shortages during this time.
“Today’s announcement highlights the latest achievement in the production of medical isotopes, supporting global cooperation and ensuring security of supply,” said Hon. Greg Rickford, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “We’re pleased to be working with Nordion and others as part of our global cooperation to advance development and production of medical isotopes.”
This new medical isotope supply will be produced using General Atomics’ innovative Selective Gaseous Extraction (SGE) technology. The targets used will incorporate Low Enriched Uranium (LEU), in line with Nordion’s commitment to the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Global Threat Reduction Initiative. The California-based technology firm brings fifty-seven years of experience and success in reactor and fuel target design to this partnership. The General Atomics TRIGA® is the most widely used research reactor in the world with 66 facilities in 23 countries on five continents.
“We are very pleased to work with world-class organizations like Nordion and MURR to solve a major medical isotope supply problem for North America that affects the lives of millions of people,” said Dr. John Parmentola, General Atomics Senior Vice President of Energy and Advanced Concepts.
“As a public research institution, MURR is pleased to support the General Atomics SGE technology. MURR has worked with Nordion for more than 20 years and is proud to be involved in a partnership that will become an important U.S. source of Mo-99,” said Ralph Butler, Executive Director of MURR. “We take our role in meeting patient needs very seriously, and we are fortunate in Missouri to have such a well-designed reactor and an outstanding staff enabling us to accommodate this important need in the medical community.”
With project planning and pre-work well underway, Nordion and its partners expect routine supply to begin in 2017.
Nordion provides market-leading products used for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. We are a leading provider of medical isotopes and gamma technologies that benefit the lives of millions of people around the world. Our products are used daily by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical-device manufacturers, hospitals, clinics and research laboratories. Nordion supplies products to approximately 500 customers across more than 40 countries around the globe. Our parent company, Sterigenics International LLC, is the global leader in contract sterilization and ionization services for the medical devices, food safety and high performance/specialty materials industries serving customers around the world. Find out more at www.nordion.com and follow us at twitter.com/NordionInc.
The University of Missouri Research Reactor Center (MURR®) has a long history of safe reliability. With its 10 MW reactor and a 6½-days-per-week; 52 week per year operating schedule, MURR supports research and education while also providing short-lived isotopes for medical applications. MURR provides a range of radioisotopes that help medical professionals diagnose and treat many diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. The nation’s largest university research reactor also supports undergraduate and graduate education programs that train the next generation of nuclear engineers and chemists. For more information, visit www.murr.missouri.edu.
General Atomics is a San Diego-based innovations firm with a 60-year history of successful solutions for energy, defense and environmental challenges, from the ground-breaking TRIGA reactor to MagLev transport systems to running the nation’s largest magnetic fusion energy program. For more information, please visit www.ga.com.
Nov. 18, 2013
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430
COLUMBIA, Mo. –– Each day, thousands of cancer patients rely on a routine supply of radiopharmaceuticals, which are drugs that have a shelf-life ranging from several days to mere minutes, depending on the isotopes used in the drugs. With the international radioisotope supply chain currently experiencing disruption, the MU Research Reactor (MURR) is taking action to mitigate the impact on the medical community.
“Responding to patient needs and industry requests, we are rescheduling our planned two-week maintenance project from December 2013 to January 2014,” said Ralph Butler, director of MURR. “We’ve had this routine maintenance project scheduled for many months, but we’re able to change the schedule to avert a shortage of medical isotopes.”
In addition to its weekly half-day maintenance program, MURR staff perform a two-week maintenance project every eight years to maintain MURR’s reliable 6½-days-per-week operating schedule.
Uninterrupted supply of short-lived medical isotopes is vital for patients to receive their necessary treatments on time. Some of the international reactors that are part of the routine supply chain are currently experiencing unplanned shutdowns. MURR’s schedule adjustment to January 2014 ensures the supply of some key medical isotopes and affords the international reactors greater time to return to full operation.
“We take our role of meeting patient needs very seriously,” Butler said. “We are fortunate in Missouri to have such a well-designed reactor and an outstanding staff enabling us to accommodate this important need in the medical community.”
MURR has a long history of safe reliability, with a 52-week-per-year schedule that supports research and education while also providing short-lived isotopes for medical applications.
Nov. 06, 2013
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430
COLUMBIA, Mo. –– Following a heart attack, many patients consult with their doctors about the necessity of heart bypass surgery. However, the active ingredient for a test that helps determine the need for surgery could be in short supply in the near future. Now, an agreement signed by officials from the University of Missouri and Global PET Imaging LLC (GPI) could lead to a solution to that shortage.
In order to determine the condition of the heart and blood flow after a heart attack, doctors usually prescribe two tests or scans of the heart and surrounding area. One of those scans uses a radioisotope known as Rubidium-82, but the supply of the isotope is limited because few facilities have the ability to make it. Today, officials from MU and GPI announced the signing of a “Letter of Intent” to create a processing facility for this isotope near the MU campus, taking advantage of expertise at the nation’s largest university research reactor.
“The market for rubidium is growing much faster than the supply, and we must find a way to increase production for this isotope that could save many lives,” said Steve Wyatt, MU vice provost for economic development. “We have researchers and experts in nuclear medicine here on this campus that also is home to the nation’s most powerful university research reactor. We already have experience in producing many other radioisotopes for medical use, and we’re looking forward to the future of this partnership.”
The agreement states that GPI will build a 70 MeV (million electron volts) cyclotron and related facilities at MU’s Discovery Ridge. MU scientists would supply the expertise to operate the cyclotron, which would produce the active ingredient for the heart test. MU also would have access to the machine for other research purposes.
“Hardly anything in health care is more important than good diagnostic imaging,” said Rod D. Martin, executive chairman of GPI. ”PET provides better data with lower isotope exposure to the patient. That means fewer false diagnoses, better early diagnoses, lower costs and saved lives.
“It’s tragic that most Americans have inadequate access to this essential tool, simply because of a shortage of something we can produce so easily. Global PET brings the resources needed to change that, the team at MURR brings more talent and expertise than any similar facility on Earth, and together we will end this needless shortage and provide higher quality health care for all Americans, period.”
“We’re very excited about working with these two groups,” said Mike Brooks, CEO of Regional Economic Development, Inc. of Columbia. “When you combine this potential resource with the science expertise at MU and the expert health care that is available in the region, it is evident that Columbia is becoming a hub for the medical industry. The people of mid-Missouri are very fortunate to have these resources available to them in their own backyard.”
Mar. 21, 2011
MURR and NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes have agreed to begin production on the only U.S. Domestic Mo-99 supply. MURR's contract irradiation and manufacturing experience combined with NorthStar technology will bring a new and stable domestic source of Mo-99 to the U.S. Nuclear Medicine Community.