June 5, 2019 – BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University (BGU), introduced a novel method for producing radioisotopes for nuclear medicine and medical imaging technologies such as computed tomography (CT) scan and positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT).
Developed by Alexander Tsechanski, Ph.D., from the BGU Department of Nuclear Engineering, the new technique obviates the need for highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium and a nuclear reactor. Nuclear medicine often necessitates the use of technetium-99m (Tc-99m) as the isotope for imaging, an unstable technetium isotope with a only a six-hour half-life that requires onsite production. In order to produce it in an economically efficient way, currently it requires weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium and a nuclear reactor to generate molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which decays into technetium-99m (Tc-99m).
The new invention uses the naturally occurring and stable molybdenum-100 (Mo-100) isotope and a linear electron accelerator to generate Mo-99 and Tc-99m1. This process can also simultaneously generate other short-lived radioisotopes such as F-18, O-15, N-13 and C-11 as byproducts for use in PET scans.
BGN Technologies said it is currently looking for partners for further developing and commercializing the technology.
For more information: www.in.bgu.ac.il
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1. Fedorchenkoa D.V. and Tsechanski A. Photoneutronic aspects of the molybdenum-99 production by means of electron linear accelerators. Nuclear Inst. and Methods in Physics Research B, published online Oct. 23, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nimb.2018.10.018