Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Global Shortages Of Radio Isotopes For Cancer Diagnosis May Be A Thing Of The Past

Date:
September 15, 2008
Source:
Delft University of Technology
Summary:
Thanks to a newly-developed technology, global shortages of radio isotopes for cancer diagnosis could be a thing of the past.

Thanks to a newly-developed technology at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, global shortages of radio isotopes for cancer diagnosis could be a thing of the past. This is the message from Prof. Bert Wolterbeek of Delft University of Technology’s Reactor Institute Delft (RID) in an article in university journal Delta.

It has made global headlines recently: hospitals are facing a shortage of radio isotopes which means that patients will have to wait longer for cancer diagnosis. Only a handful of reactors around the world manufacture the isotope, technetium-99m, which is used to treat about forty million patients annually. Three of these reactors are currently unable to supply any due to maintenance work, including Europe’s most important: the Dutch reactor in Petten.

Additional isotope manufacturers would reduce the risk of shortages considerably. The current process requires enriched uranium. And that is the kind of material for which manufacturers need a special permit due to nuclear non-proliferation treaties. Prof. Bert Wolterbeek of the RID is working on a radical solution to this problem. He is developing a method for producing the sought-after isotope without uranium. If these experiments prove to be applicable in an industrial environment, many more factories could manufacture the material.

"Technetium-99m, the material in question, is currently made by highly enriched uranium fission,” Wolterbeek explains. "One of the products created is radioactive molybdenum-99, the raw material for technetium-99m. Manufacturers supply this molybdenum to hospitals secured in rods. A hospital can ‘harvest’ the technetium-99m isotope from a rod for a week as the molybdeen-99 slowly decays into technetium-99m."

Yet molybdenum-99 can also be manufactured from molybdenum-98, a stable isotope made of natural molybdenum, a material which mining companies already extract from the ground. Wolterbeek has patented a technique in which he bombards this raw material with neutrons in order to make molybdenum-99. The molybdenum atoms are not just ‘activated’ by the neutron bombardment, but are also separated from the surrounding atoms by the energy transfer. The resultant molybdenum-99 can then be dissolved in water. This means that the isotope can be produced in highly concentrated form. And this aspect is crucial. Wolterbeek: "The activity concentration of the radioactive material needs to be high, otherwise patients will be given too high a chemical dose to form a clear radiation image."

Wolterbeek wishes to hold larger-scale tests in conjunction with Urenco. The head of the Stable Isotopes department at this reprocessing company, Charles Mol, envisages the technology from Delft University of Technology being used to open up a "highly interesting market". In his view, scientists around the globe are desperately searching for alternative manufacturing methods as the use of enriched uranium will cease at some point due to nuclear non-proliferation treaties. "Another reason," he says, "is that the current manufacturing process produces a huge amount of radioactive waste. And any alternative method using low-enriched uranium could produce even more waste."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Delft University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Delft University of Technology. "Global Shortages Of Radio Isotopes For Cancer Diagnosis May Be A Thing Of The Past." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080911142423.htm>.
Delft University of Technology. (2008, September 15). Global Shortages Of Radio Isotopes For Cancer Diagnosis May Be A Thing Of The Past. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080911142423.htm
Delft University of Technology. "Global Shortages Of Radio Isotopes For Cancer Diagnosis May Be A Thing Of The Past." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080911142423.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins