Skip to comments.New Source of an Isotope in Medicine Is Found
Posted on 02/17/2010 7:29:05 PM PST by neverdem
WASHINGTON Just as the worldwide shortage of a radioactive isotope used in millions of medical procedures is about to get worse, officials say a new source for the substance has emerged: a nuclear reactor in Poland.
The isotope, technetium 99, is used to measure blood flow in the heart and to help diagnose bone and breast cancers. Almost two-thirds of the worlds supply comes from two reactors; one, in Ontario, has been shut for repairs for nine months and is not expected to reopen before April, and the other, in the Netherlands, will close for six months starting Friday.
Radiologists say that as a result of the shortage, their treatment of some patients has had to revert to inferior materials and techniques they stopped using 20 years ago.
But on Wednesday, Covidien, a company in St. Louis that purifies the material created in the reactor and packages it in a form usable by radiologists, will announce that it has signed a contract with the operators of the Maria reactor, near Warsaw, one of the worlds most powerful research reactors.
The Maria, a 36-year-old reactor, will fill only a small fraction of the gap left by the shutdowns at Chalk River, Ontario, and Petten, the Netherlands. Still, Dr. Michael M. Graham, a professor of radiology at the University of Iowa and a member of the board of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, said the new arrangement could make the difference between being able to limp along and shutting down.
As the American base of reactors for research and isotope production withers, the United States has increasingly looked abroad for radioactive materials. The inspector general of the Energy Department has reported that supplies have sometimes been unreliable, either late or not meeting specifications...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Obama just discoverd a new political element; Unatainium.
If the uranium needs to be cooled, I assume there is a good reason for that. I hope in their eagerness to kludge something the Polish reactor folks don't start a fire and end up with a European Chernobyl.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
set beebers to stune...
Here in Washington State we had one of the best reactors ever built. The Fast Flux Test Reactor. Clinton decided to shut it down. We fought a good long fight because it was capable of making medical isatops.
It is now completely shut down and never able to start up again because they removed the cooling from it.
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