Beloit-based radiopharmaceutical company NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, LLC was awarded $37 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and expand its production of molybdenum-99.
NorthStar will use the funds to complete its neutron capture technology program and continue the development of its accelerator and production program, according to the company. Both projects support the production of non-uranium-based Mo-99, a medical isotope that decays into an imaging agent used in medical diagnostic procedures for heart disease and cancer.
NorthStar has produced Mo-99 for nearly three years and is currently the only commercialized producer of Mo-99 in the country, according to the company. Despite using nearly half of the world’s Mo-99 supply, the U.S. hadn’t produced the medical isotope domestically prior to 2018.
The funds were awarded to NorthStar in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which aims to establish a domestic supply chain of Mo-99 without using highly enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes.
About $16.3 million will be dedicated to NorthStar's neutron capture project and $20.6 million will be used to support its accelerator project – NorthStar will be required to match the funds as part of the cooperative agreement.
The funds will also be used to develop NorthStar’s FDA-approved RadioGenix System, which uses non-uranium-based Mo-99 to create technetium-99, a medical imaging agent used in 40,000 procedures daily, according to the company.
"We are proud to be the first and only company to achieve commercialized Mo-99 production through collaboration with DOE/NNSA to date," NorthStar president and CEO Stephen Merrick said in a statement. "We are working aggressively to ensure sustainable domestic Mo-99 supply through dual production and processing hubs for additional capacity and scheduling flexibility."
NorthStar has been awarded more than $100 million to date including current and past funding from the DOE/NNSA, according to the company.