Medical radioisotopes are widely used in cancer treatment, but their production has been hampered to the point that obtaining them has become a challenge. The lack of Technetium-99m is probably the most widely known, but there’s also a shortage of Iodine-131 (I-131), a radioisotope commonly used for diagnosing and treating thyroid conditions because the thyroid absorbs iodine naturally.
Things are now looking up as the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR), a 10 megawatt reactor, has just produced the first commercial batch of I-131. International Isotopes, Inc. is the buyer and distributor. This is the first supplier of I-131 to be based in the United States since the 1980s, and so should help to guarantee the availability of the radioisotope for many years. It was first approved by the FDA in 1951, but because of a half life lasting just over a week, the material requires constant and consistent production.
“Having MURR as a domestic producer for I-131 provides a much higher level of stability and reliability in the U.S. for this important isotope,” said Steve Laflin, president and CEO of International Isotopes, Inc. (INIS). “INIS has been supplying I-131 throughout the U.S. for nearly 15 years using only foreign sources of supply. We are pleased to have an opportunity to enter into a long-term supply agreement, and INIS plans to utilize MURR as one of our major suppliers for I-131 in the future.”
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