Shine to share in federal funding for Mo-99 development

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Shine Medical Technologies and its partner, the Morgridge Institute for Research, will collaborate on a $20.6 million cooperative agreement awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE-NNSA) to develop a new process for the production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which will be produced without highly enriched uranium (HEU).

The project team, which includes collaborators at Phoenix Nuclear Labs, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Argonne National Laboratory, Savannah River National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, is led by the Morgridge Institute.

Thomas Rockwell Mackie, PhD, a medical physicist and director of medical devices for the Morgridge Institute, serves as the principal investigator on the project. Shine will serve as the primary subcontractor and retain rights to the technology developed under the consortium.

Shine Medical recently reached a decision to locate its production facility on an 84-acre site in Janesville, Wis. The plant could create up to 150 permanent jobs, said Greg Piefer, CEO of Shine.

This cooperative agreement is the second award, following a $1 million cooperative agreement awarded by the DOE-NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative in September 2010. Each of these cooperative agreements is implemented under an equal cost-sharing arrangement.

Shine is seeking to produce Mo-99 and other medical isotopes at its plant. Mo-99 decays into technetium-99m, which is used in 55,000 diagnostic nuclear imaging procedures each day in the U.S., primarily in the diagnoses of cardiac disease and cancer. The isotope is currently produced by a handful of aging nuclear reactors around the world, but those reactors are operating well past their prime and recently have experienced unscheduled shutdowns, causing a worldwide shortage of Mo-99.

Shine's method to produce the isotope combines a technology developed by UW–Madison medical physics researcher Paul DeLuca with a process invented by Piefer of Shine. This method does not use highly enriched uranium, does not require a nuclear reactor and fits well with the nation’s existing supply chain.