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BWXT's new medical isotope technology

BWXT developed a new medical isotope technology to produce Mo-99

by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
BWX Technologies has developed a new technology to manufacture Mo-99 that uses neutron capture.

“While neutron capture was the original method for producing Mo-99, Tc-99m generators using neutron capture Mo-99 historically produced a far less concentrated elution of Tc-99m,” Dr. Jonathan Cirtain, VP of advanced technologies at BWXT, told HCB News. “Therefore, [it] limited the types of kits and doses of imaging agent that could be effectively compounded, administered and imaged.”

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However, the new technology produces a proprietary Mo-99 product that when eluted, produces an eluent of similar specific activity to fission-based Tc-99m generators that are available today. That means radiopharmacies can use BWXT Tc-99m generators in the same way they use current fission-based Tc-99m generators.

But Cirtain noted that unlike the traditional process of producing Mo-99 and Tc-99m generators from a nuclear fission process, this process doesn’t use fission. As a result, it doesn’t produce uranium or other fission products as waste, which is costly and difficult to dispose of and can be a proliferation concern.

BWXT expects this new medical isotope technology to provide a reliable domestic supply of Mo-99 and Tc-99m for North America. But the company has competition from a handful of companies with the same goal.

“We are confident because we have experience in this area developed over decades of work, and we’ve had a highly successful development program, including supplemental assistance from outside expertise when needed,” said Cirtain.

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