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Molecular Imaging Homepage

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Rhodotron TT300 HE electron
beam accelerators

NorthStar buys IBA electron accelerators for Mo-99 production

by John R. Fischer , Staff Reporter
NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes has put forth downpayments for two Rhodotron TT300 HE electron beam accelerators produced by Ion Beam Applications (IBA).

The purchase and installation of the systems will enable the Wisconsin-based nuclear medicine enterprise to increase its production capacity and efficiencies, and create manufacturing redundancies that secure its supply of non-uranium-based, molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) radioisotopes for U.S. customers and patients.

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“The electron accelerators offer advantages in being one of the most effective methods of producing Mo-99, in addition to providing customized flexibility to accommodate customer needs, and production redundancies to minimize risks to customer supply,” Stephen Merrick, president and chief executive officer of NorthStar, told HCB News. “Adding accelerator production is one aspect of NorthStar's carefully staged approach to providing and expanding capacity for Mo-99 production in the United States.”

The machines will assist NorthStar in combating shortages of Mo-99, which will then be converted by the company’s RadioGenix system into technetium-99m (Tc-99m) for use in diagnostic imaging exams, such as for heart disease, cancer, infection, and inflammation, among other conditions. They also will be used in the production of new radiopharmaceuticals for diagnosis and treatment.

Each costing more than $6.7 million, the two will be installed in a 10,000-sq. ft. facility expansion, the groundbreaking of which is planned to take place in the next year in Beloit, Wisconsin. Construction will run parallel to the manufacturing of the accelerators and other equipment provided by IBA.

The installations build upon a number of milestones achieved by NorthStar over the past year, including the FDA clearance and first order of its RadioGenex System.

“Upon installation, which is expected in 2020, the facility and equipment will require appropriate validations, licensing and FDA approval(s) prior to use,” said Merrick. “Our ramp-up production capacity plans are underway to consistently meet more than 2/3 of market demand, and surge capacity would eventually provide the potential to meet total market demand.”

The need for domestic supplies of Mo-99 in the U.S. is a topic of great concern in the nuclear medicine world and one that recently pushed the Department of Energy to open up negotiations for potential new cooperative agreement awards with NorthStar and three other companies, to facilitate production of non-uranium-based Mo-99. NorthStar is the first domestic source of Mo-99 in nearly 30 years for the U.S.

The company plans to acquire and install six more Rhodotron systems from IBA in the coming years.

Operations at the new facility are expected to begin in 2021.

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