Morning Briefing - February 21, 2019
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February 21, 2019

Energy Dept. Announces $60 Million More for Isotope Production

By ExchangeMonitor

The Department of Energy on Wednesday announced plans to provide another $60 million in funding for domestic programs to produce the medical isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99).

The department’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) intends to begin negotiations with four companies on cooperative agreements, each worth as much as $15 million. The anticipated recipients are: NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, of Beloit, Wis.; SHINE Medical Technologies, of Janesville, Wis.; Northwest Medical Isotopes, of Corvallis, Ore.; and Niowave, of Lansing, Mich.

The companies were assessed and selected by an independent panel of technical specialists.

“SHINE is happy the DOE independent review panel has once again validated our technical approach and we’re proud to be considered for a new cooperative agreement,” spokeswoman Katrina Pitas said by email Wednesday. The company would use the funding for construction of its isotope production plant, which is due to begin this spring.

All recipients would be required to match the NNSA funding.

Details of the upcoming negotiations were not immediately available. The federal government in Washington, D.C., was largely closed by a snowstorm Wednesday.

The companies are working to re-establish U.S.-based manufacturing of Mo-99, which has not happened since 1989. To meet the NNSA’s standards, their method must not use nuclear weapon-usable highly enriched uranium and must be able to provide at least 3,000 6-day curies of Mo-99 per week.

Molybdenum-99 decays into the isotope technetium-99m, which is used extensively around the world in a range of medical services, including diagnosing heart disease and cancer.

The NNSA previously issued four cooperative agreements to Mo-99 projects managed by NorthStar, SHINE, and General Atomics. Each matching agreement was worth $25 million; NorthStar received two agreements for separate production approaches. General Atomics ultimately abandoned its program after one of its partners, Nordion, withdrew.