NorthStar Gets $11.8M to Support Radioisotope Production Development

NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes has received an $11.8 million grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, the company announced Thursday.

The startup, based in Madison, WI, said it will use the funding to continue its march toward commercial production of molybdenum-99, the material that decays into technetium-99m, the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. One of NorthStar’s competitors, Shine Medical Technologies, is also based in Madison.

NorthStar is working on two different ways to produce molybdenum-99. The first, which requires a nuclear reactor and is known as “neutron capture,” is further along than the second, which involves introducing photons into a particle accelerator. Of the new financing, $9.9 million will support development of the neutron capture method and $2.9 million will go toward accelerator-based production. Earlier this month, NorthStar chief science officer James Harvey told Xconomy the company plans to start making molybdenum-99 in mid-2016 at the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center in Columbia, MO.

“These awards are clear indications of the progress that NorthStar is making toward bringing a viable domestic supply of [molybdenum-99] to the United States—something we have not had since 1990,” NorthStar president and CEO George Messina said in a prepared statement.

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