Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Ben-Gurion U researcher develops new imaging material that replaces weapons-grade uranium


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: June 12th, 2019

A researcher from Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Israel has discovered a way to use nuclear-based imaging technologies without the need for potentially harmful levels of uranium.

Nuclear and accelerator physics have contributed significantly to the diagnosis and treatment of cancers via imaging technologies. However, these innovations often necessitate the use of technetium-99m (Tc-99m), an unstable technetium isotope that, in order to be produced efficiently, has required the use of weapons-grade uranium and a nuclear reactor to generate molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which decays into Tc-99m.

The new method, developed by BGU researcher Alexander Tsechanski, uses the naturally occurring and stable isotope molybdenum-100 (Mo-100) and a linear electron accelerator to generate Mo-99 and Tc-99m without the need for highly enriched uranium or a nuclear reactor. The method could be used in medical imaging technologies such as CT scans and PET-CT.

BGN Technologies, the university’s commercialization arm, is advancing the technology for commercial development.

“Technetium-99m is a metastable nuclear isomer of technetium-99 that is used in tens of millions of medical diagnostic procedures annually, making it the most commonly used medical radioisotope,” says Zafrir Levy, senior vice president for business development, exact sciences and engineering at BGN Technologies. “The need for uranium and a nuclear reactor to produce this radioisotope is creating a shortage of this important substance. Tsechanski’s innovation offers a more feasible, cost-effective method using cheaper electron accelerators for generating Mo-99/Tc-99m. We are currently looking for partners for further developing and commercializing this important invention.”

Source: Breaking Israel News

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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