• WisBusiness

Friday, August 21, 2009

National nuclear medicine shortage could have a Wisconsin solution


By Tom Still
An average of 40,000 Americans per day are given a radioactive isotope that acts as a light source within their bodies, illuminating cancerous tumors and heart problems that doctors otherwise couldn't detect -- short of surgery and other procedures that are riskier, more costly and less effective.

The supply of that isotope, used widely and safely for decades, is now threatened by a shortage of the core material -- Molybdenum 99 -- used to produce it for hospitals and clinics. It's an emerging crisis with national and even international dimensions, yet a dilemma that could be solved by a Wisconsin company called Phoenix Nuclear Labs.

Scientists working with the Madison-based company believe they can generate the neutrons necessary to create Mo-99, an essential nuclear medicine tool, without using a nuclear reactor to do so. It's a safer and more sustainable method than the status quo, which relies on production of Mo-99 from five retirement-age nuclear medicine reactors -- two of which are now shut down, one perhaps permanently.

The idled reactors in Canada and the Netherlands supply 92 percent of all Mo-99 used in the United States, where some 25 million doses are given each year. Eighty percent of nuclear medicine scans use the isotope, called Technetium-99 after refined for clinical use, to detect cancer, heart disease or kidney illness.

The isotope allows physicians to examine bones and blood flow, among other things, then disappears within hours from the body, minimizing the dose of radiation received by the patient. Because of its short half-life, the Mo-99 isotope cannot be stockpiled and must be used within a week after it is produced.

Already, nuclear medicine doctors and pharmacists nationwide are reporting widespread shortages, with thousands of procedures delayed each day. While they can handle part of the caseload in other ways, doctors say it's only a matter of time before more patients miss necessary scans -- or pay much more to get them.

"It's possible some deaths could occur," Dr. Michael Graham of the University of Iowa, president of the nation's largest nuclear medicine association, told the Los Angeles Times.

Enter Phoenix Nuclear Labs, a company with ties to scientists such as Dr. Paul DeLuca, a nuclear medicine pioneer at the UW-Madison and its current provost; Dr. Thomas "Rock" Mackie, co-founder of TomoTherapy; and Dr. Harrison Schmitt, one of the last astronauts to walk on the moon in 1972 and an adjunct professor of nuclear engineering at UW-Madison. The company president is Dr. Greg Piefer, who holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the UW-Madison.

The technical details of how the company would produce Mo-99 would fill a book, but imagine a device through which electrically charged particles bombard a specific type of "plasma," or hot, ionized gas. That produces neutrons which in turn strike a low-grade uranium solution, which produces the Mo-99. There is almost no long-lived nuclear waste, no risk of an explosive accident, and it's about 20 times less expensive to construct than a nuclear medicine reactor -- if one could be approved at all.

The process may also benefit national security: The Phoenix Nuclear process could be operated at home or abroad without fear of the waste being reused to make atomic weapons. That's not true of the current isotope production process, which some observers believe is vulnerable to nuclear terrorism.

The security angle is one reason why Piefer and Phoenix Nuclear were selected to present at the third annual "Resource Rendezvous," a conference that attracts federal science and technology experts to review Wisconsin technologies and companies. The conference, organized by the Wisconsin Security Research Consortium, will be held Wednesday at UW-Milwaukee.

"This system offers a near-term solution for a very real problem that is affecting patients today," Piefer said. "The core technology has been demonstrated over decades. Now, we're putting it to use to improve nuclear medicine. Over time, there will be energy and security applications, as well."

As the isotope shortage gains national attention, look for a Wisconsin company to be a part of the solution.

-- Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. He is the former associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.

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Comments: 4

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التى تحقق اعلى مستوى من العزل بالاعتماد على افضل المواد المخصصة فى القيام باعمال العزل والتى استطاعت ان تتاكد ان اعمال العزل التى تتم بالخيش المقطرن والسيلتون من افضل الخدمات المثالية المميزة التى تحقق اعلى مستوى من العزل دون ان يؤدى الى ظهور اى عيب فى اعمال العزل .
لا تكتفى شركة قمم التميز بالقيام باعمال العزل فى منطقة معينة بل تسعى الى الوصول الى اى مكان فى شرق الرياض – جنوب الرياض – غرب الرياض – وسط الرياض من اجل ان تحقق خدمات العزل لجميع عملاء الشركة الكرام . شركة عزل خزانات بالجبيل
تهتم شركة عزل اسطح بالقيام باعمال العزل الحرارى من خلال الاعتماد على افضل الطرق المثالية وافضل الخدمات المميزة فى القيام باعمال العزل بالاضافة الى ان الشركة تهتم باعمال الكشف الدورى من فترة الى اخرى من اجل ان يتم التحقق ان اعمال العزل تمت كما هو مطلوب فى المكان . شركة جلي بلاط رخام بالجبيل
العزل الحرارى يساعد فى حماية الاسطح من التعرض الى ارتفاع فى درجة الحرارة وتسربها عبر الجدران فى فصل الصيف بالاضافة الى التعرض الى التصدعات وعوامل المناخية المختلفة التى تتعرض الية فى فصل الصيف نتيجة لشدة الحرارة التى تظهر التشوهات فى المبانى ، بالاضافة الى ان لدينا خدمات العزل المائى من خلال الاعتماد على خدمات العزل المائية التى تتم من خلال افضل خدمات متواجدة والتى تسعى الى تحقيق افضل مستوى من الخدمة والعزل بالفوم ايضا من اهم الطرق الحديثة التى استخدامت فى العديد من الدول الاوربية لانه يساعد فى حماية المبنى من التعرض الى الحرارة المرتفعه او التعرض الى التسربات للمياة والحفاظ على المبنى من اى مشاكل وعوامل مناخية ، فاعمال العزل للفوم اختصار لكل طرق العزل والتى تساعد فى الحفاظ على المبنى .
شركة تسليك مجارى بالجبيل
كشف تسربات المياه
تسربات المياه مشكلة تؤدى الى التعرض الى عدد من المشكلات الاخرى ، فالاهمال فى تسربات المياه يؤدى الى التعرض الى الكثير من المشكلات التى نحن فى غنى عنة فاذا تعرض الى التسربات وتعرضت الى ظهور عدد من المشكلات الاخرى مثل سقوط الدهانات والتعرض الى مشاكل الرطوبة فعليك ان تتواصل وتتعاقد مع شركة قمم التميز المخصصه فى اعمال الكشف عن تسربات المياه والتى تحقق افضل ما تتمنى ان ترى علية المكان من خلال القيام بالاتى :-
اذا اراد ان تقوم باعمال الاصلاح والتخلص من التسربات المتواجدة فى المكان بالاضافة الى البحث عن الاسباب التى ادتت الى التعرض الى تلك المشكلة حتى لا تحدث مرة اخرى فعليك ان تتعاون مع شركة قمم التميز المتخصصة فى اعمال الكشف عن تسربات المياه والتخلص من مشاكل التسربات .

 
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