Argonne lab confirms commercial method of Mo-99 production

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has demonstrated the successful production, separation and purification of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) using a process developed in a public-private partnership with SHINE Medical Technologies.

 Mo-99 is the parent isotope of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), which is widely used in medical imaging for heart stress tests, bone scans and more. Tc-99m is used in more than 40 million scans per year, however, Mo-99 is not produced in the U.S. A major Canadian research reactor that produced the isotope will go offline, and the fact that traditional production methods used highly enriched uranium—which presents a risk of nuclear weapons proliferation—has led industry experts to seek alternate methods of production.

The demonstration at Argonne featured the same process that will be used in the SHINE manufacturing facility and the subsequent Mo-99 product purity was equivalent to that of the isotopes in the supply chain today, according to the company.

Argonne also supports the work of NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which is developing a separate process to create Mo-99, in an effort to spur production on two fronts.

“The development of techniques for domestic production of Mo-99 is a critical national priority and one fully supported by our work at Argonne,” said George Vandegrift, PhD, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow who leads the Mo-99 development efforts. “Millions of patients each year rely on Mo-99 for life-saving diagnostic procedures, but the stability and safety of that supply is threatened by a variety of factors.”