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Idaho State To Ramp Up Production of Isotope Used in Nuclear Medicine

Idaho State University has signed a letter of intent to form a partnership with Positron Systems for the production and distribution of molybdenum-99 (99Mo), a widely used isotope in nuclear medicine.

According to a statement issued by the two partners, the United States' supply of 99Mo is in jeopardy owing to its reliance on a foreign supplier and safety concerns arising from the nuclear reactor-based production method currently employed by all current suppliers. Scientists at ISU's Idaho Accelerator Center have developed a novel, proprietary method to produce 99Mo and are currently engaged in additional 99Mo research.

A planned Positron subsidiary in collaboration with the Idaho Accelerator Center will specialize in the production of commercial isotopes using particle accelerators, becoming Idaho's first facility of its kind for the manufacture of radioactive tracer doses used in nuclear medicine procedures. Twenty million such procedures are performed in the United States each year to diagnose heart and brain disorders and cancer.

"Idaho State University is on a trajectory to become a national leader in medical isotope research and development," said Vice President for Research Pam Crowell. "We are excited to work toward a partnership with Positron Systems to help deliver vital medical products to the [United States.]"

"Working side-by-side with [the university], we intend to replace the foreign supply of 99Mo in the [United States] with a product produced here in Idaho," said T. Erik Oaas, chairman of Positron Systems. The company has facilities in Boise and Pocatello, ID.

In April 2009 Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter identified Idaho State's isotope project as one of three priorities for funding through the state's higher education portion of the federal stimulus package. "As Idaho prepares to lead the nation out of this recession, public/private partnerships like this will help drive our economic future," the governor said.

The university recently received nearly $1 million in federal appropriation to further its 99Mo research efforts.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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