NNSA Awards Additional Support To Accelerate Domestic Mo-99 Development

NNSA News:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced Friday is awarding more than $8 million additional support to its cooperative agreement partners, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes and SHINE Medical Technologies, to accelerate the establishment of new, domestic sources of the medical isotope Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) – produced without the use of proliferation-sensitive highly enriched uranium (HEU).

Since 2010, the NNSA has partnered with NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes and SHINE Medical Technologies. Friday’s award marks a significant step in the effort to help ensure reliable supplies of Mo-99 are available to meet patient needs with a reduced nuclear proliferation threat.

NNSA has awarded an additional contribution of $5.2 million to NorthStar to further develop its technology to produce Mo-99 via neutron capture, bringing the total NNSA support to this project to $16.1 million. 

SHINE Medical Technologies received an additional contribution of $3.2 million from the NNSA to further develop its accelerator-based technology to produce Mo-99 via fission of low-enriched uranium (LEU), bringing the total NNSA support awarded to date to $13.9 million.

“This additional cost-shared support from NNSA to its cooperative agreement partners is especially vital as the world’s largest producer is expected to cease Mo-99 production in 2016, and highlights our continued commitment to ensure that reliable supplies of this important medical isotope are available to meet patient needs in a way that is consistent with our nuclear nonproliferation objectives,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. 

Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m, the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging,  used in approximately 80 percent of nuclear diagnostic imaging procedures, equating to about 50,000 medical procedures in the United States every day.  The United States does not currently produce Mo-99 and must import 100 percent of its supply from foreign producers, most of which use HEU in the production processes. Recent technical difficulties and shutdowns at the major Mo-99 production facilities have caused widespread shortages to the medical community, and the world’s largest producer—located in Canada—is expected to cease Mo 99 production after 2016.  These events emphasize the need to establish new commercial Mo-99 production capacity in the United States.

For more information on NNSA efforts to establish a reliable supply of Mo-99 without the use of HEU, click here.