NorthStar awarded $21.8 million for domestic molybdenum

Northstar Medical Technologies was awarded $21.8 million in part by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The grant was provided in an effort to develop a sustainable American supply of molybdenum-99 using alternative medical isotope production methods that do not require the use of high-enriched uranium, according to a Nov. 21 announcement.

The NNSA is contributing $10.9 million toward the technology’s development. Unlike other alternatives, NorthStar would produce molybdenum-99 by irradiating molybdenum-100 by way of neutron capture. The technique is carried out with an electron linear accelerator rather than a nuclear reactor in a collaboration with the University of Missouri Research Reactor.

“We are very pleased to reach this major milestone in partnership with the NNSA,” said George Messina, NorthStar’s CEO in a release. “The recent unscheduled seven month shutdown of the HFR Petten Reactor and previous other foreign supply disruptions have heightened the concern that another potential medical isotope crisis is looming in the near future. NNSA’s desire to support the NorthStar project along with our investors demonstrates the confidence they have in the future success NorthStar's approach.” 

At full capacity, NorthStar expects to be able to supply 50 percent of U.S. demand for molybdenum-99, the parent isotope of technetium-99 used in a majority of nuclear medicine exams.