The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization's new OPAL reactor will help produce nuclear imaging isotopes for the U.S..
June 15, 2009 - Lantheus Medical Imaging Inc. today said it finalized an arrangement with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) to receive the nuclear imaging radiotracer component molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) produced from low-enriched uranium (LEU) targets in ANSTO’s new OPAL reactor.
This supply arrangement positions Lantheus to be the first company to supply technetium-99m (Tc-99m) derived from LEU to the U.S. market. With a string of shut downs at a Canadian reactor that supplies about one third of the world supply of medical isotopes, the company said it wanted to ensure a reliable supply and global access to Tc-99m, the medical isotope used in approximately 80 percent of all nuclear medicine procedures.
Lantheus will soon receive a supply of Mo-99 at regular intervals from ANSTO, for use in its TechneLite generator line that is currently distributed to the U.S. and Canadian markets. ANSTO has secured the necessary regulatory approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia to use the LEU Mo-99 in a Tc-99m generator. The LEU-derived Mo-99 from ANSTO has been tested and validated by Lantheus for use in its TechneLite generator line to ensure the consistency and reliability that are the hallmarks of the TechneLite brand. This arrangement supports Lantheus’ supply chain diversification strategy and marks another step to address the limited and fragile global Mo-99 supply chain, as evidenced by the current NRU reactor shutdown in Canada.
ANSTO is working closely with nuclear safety and health regulators, both domestically and overseas, to expedite all necessary approvals to allow long-term production and export of medical isotopes. Lantheus, together with ANSTO, is working closely with the FDA and Health Canada to achieve the necessary LEU Mo-99 approvals for the U.S. and Canadian markets.
Mo-99 is the parent isotope of Tc-99m. Mo-99 is produced by the irradiation of uranium “targets” in a reactor. There are only few major worldwide suppliers of Mo-99, and most use highly-enriched uranium (HEU) targets. A primary objective of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) is to minimize proliferation risks by phasing out the use of HEU in civil commerce. ANSTO is the only global commercial supplier that currently produces Mo-99 using LEU targets, and Lantheus will be the first generator manufacturer to bring this LEU-based Mo-99 to the U.S. market.