GE Hitachi venture takes steps to produce Mo-99 in U.S.

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GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Exelon are partnering to study the feasibility of producing molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the most commonly used medical isotope, at Clinton Power Station, a nuclear power plant in Clinton, Ill.

Mo-99 decays into technetium-99m, an isotope used in about 85 percent of all nuclear medicine procedures, including evaluation of the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, spleen, bones and blood flow. To address the shortage of this isotope, GEH and the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Global Threat Reduction Initiative are developing a domestic source of Mo-99 that does not rely on using highly enriched uranium (HEU).

Exelon's Clinton Power Station currently produces the isotope cobalt-60 for use in other medical treatments. In the next year, GEH and Exelon will work on a design to allow insertion and removal of activated Mo-99 on a weekly basis. Because Mo-99 has a half-life of only 66 hours, the companies said they will seek to develop a system to allow delivery of the isotope on a weekly basis.

Also, Wilmington, N.C.-based GEH has signed memoranda of understanding with NuView Life Sciences' facility in Denton, Texas and NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes' facility in the city of Beloit, Wis., as potential processors of Mo-99.