Perma-Fix advances Tc-99m production technology

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Concern over the future supply of medical isotopes in the wake of recent worldwide shortages and aging nuclear reactors has spawned a kind of cottage industry among entrepreneurs. One such firm is Perma-Fix Medical, which is developing a method for producing technetium-99m (Tc-99m) that does not require uranium.

The company’s neutron-capture production process is designed to activate natural molybdenum (Mo) to produce Mo-99, which then decays into Tc-99m. By removing uranium from the production chain, the new process can be performed locally using standard research and commercial nuclear reactors, rather than one of the five research reactors in the world currently capable of processing enriched uranium.

At the heart of the technology is the company’s specialized resin, which is radiation resistant, holds large quantities of molybdenum, and releases almost 90% of the Tc-99m as it forms from the decayed Mo-99.

“It is a simple solution to a complex issue,” said Stephen Belcher, Perma-Fix Medical’s CEO. “It is taking a normal generator, replacing the aluminum core with this resin core, and then applying the radioactivity to this core. We can radiate it, have activated molybdenum, and apply it to our resin core.”

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