HEU or Highly Enriched Uranium is uranium that can be developed into nuclear weapons. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) was signed by President Obama in an effort to permanently reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction. The Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Reactor Conversion sub-program was developed to work with manufacturers to convert the production of HEU into LEU Low-Enriched Uranium fuel. LEU or Low-Enriched Uranium is the naturally occurring U-235 isotope. LEU is used in nuclear fuel for reactors using natural (light) water as a moderator and coolant.
What does all this mean for nuclear imaging?
Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) is the parent isotope that decays to Technetium 99m (Tc-99m), used in 16.7 million U.S. procedures annually, according to the Society of Nuclear Medicine. It is the most widely used radioisotope in the world and can help diagnose heart disease, detect and stage cancer, detect thyroid disease, study kidney function, the brain, and image bone structures. Unfortunately, due to the changes in economic policy, the product Tc-99m has become harder to access. This has strains on hospitals and clinics trying to help patients by providing them with the diagnostic studies they need.
Unfortunately, Mo-99 is not produced in the United States. The American Medical Isotope Production Act, which has been in affect for over a year, is helping manufacturers in the US do just that. Originally it partnered with three U.S. domestic manufacturers to produce the non-HEU Mo-99 in the United States. One of these manufacturers has since dropped out. However, Shine and NorthStar are working to develop LEU fission technology, neutron capture technology and accelerator technology to produce Mo-99
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. While Mo-99 is still not produced in the United States, both Shine and NorthStar have received significant funding and hope to be producing Mo-99 by the end of 2016 or early 2017.
ec2 Software Solutions is a nuclear medicine software provider. We do not endorse any certain diagnostic products but rather support the research that these drug manufacturers conduct. For more information on how our software can help your manufacturing facility, please visit our website or call us at 800-851-0025 option 2.
Photo by: Virginia edu