Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99 or moly-99; pronounced “molly-99”)
Molybdenum‑99 is the parent isotope of technetium‑99m (Tc‑99m or tech‑99m), a light-emitting element that is administered to approximately 56,000 Americans every day for the purpose of diagnosing and staging a multitude of diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
SHINE will produce moly‑99, which is loaded into tech‑99m generators. As moly‑99 turns into tech‑99m within the generator, the tech‑99m can be extracted by radiopharmacy staff for use in imaging procedures.
Tech‑99m is used in over 80% of nuclear diagnostic procedures worldwide, making it the heart of modern nuclear medicine.
Nuclear medicine scans play a critical role in the diagnosis and staging of the top two killers of Americans: heart disease and cancer. In fact, 56% of all procedures using technetium‑99m are myocardial perfusion scans, or “stress tests” that measure blood flow through the heart. The second most common technetium-99m procedure is a bone scan to check for cancer metastases to the bone. The liver, respiratory system, thyroid, and kidneys are also often imaged using technetium‑99m.
Technetium‑99m is the most commonly used radioisotope in nuclear medicine. As an essential ingredient in over 30 important diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals, it is used in about 40 million procedures per year worldwide, meaning that more than one patient is treated with technetium‑99m every second. Its chemical versatility allows radiopharmacists to attach it to a wide variety of pharmaceuticals that are specially formulated to seek out particular chemical processes within the body. Technetium‑99m then acts as an internal light source, providing doctors with a non-invasive way to image almost any part of the body and obtain functional information about a wide variety of organs.
Iodine‑131 is widely used to treat thyroid cancer and other abnormal thyroid conditions, such as hyper-thyroidism (an over-active thyroid). It is also used to diagnose liver function, renal (kidney) blood flow and urinary tract obstruction.
Like moly‑99, the U.S. is currently dependent on foreign countries for its supply of iodine‑131.
Iodine‑125 is used in a type of cancer therapy known as brachytherapy, in which small sealed sources are placed inside or next to the area of treatment. It is commonly used in the treatment of prostate cancer and brain tumors. It is also used diagnostically to evaluate kidney function and diagnose deep vein thrombosis in the leg.
Xenon-133 is inhaled as a gas to evaluate regional function in emphysema and other forms of chronic and obstructive lung disease. It can also be used to image blood flow, particularly in the brain.
Like moly‑99, the U.S. is currently dependent on foreign countries for its supply of xenon‑133.