Desperately Seeking Molly: Chaitanya Divgi, MD, discusses world-wide shortage of medical isotopes in Science News

September 30, 2009

Science News

Chaitanya Divgi, MD, professor of Radiology and chief of Nuclear Medicine and Clinical Molecular Imaging, comments throughout an article in the September 26th issue of Science News which covers the current, world-wide shortage shortage of medical isotopes. According to the article, "Of all the radioactive isotopes used in medical diagnostics, none plays a more pivotal role than technetium-99m. Each weekday, hospitals and clinics around the world use it to perform about 60,000 diagnostic procedures. Used in about 80 percent of nuclear imaging tests, the isotope is one of modern medicine's major tools for detecting evaluating and treating cancers, heart disease and other serious illnesses." Technetium-99m has a very short life, as does molybdenum-99 (Mo-99 or "moly") the feedstock that supplies it, therefore both isotopes can't be stockpiled. Moly must be continually made and delivered to imaging centers weeky. Only five aging nuclear reactors in Europe, Canada and South Africa produce about 90 percent of the world's global Moly feedstock, all of which are well past their prime. Just this summer, reactor shutdowns led to isotope shortages so severe that US officials proposed that efforts must bed made to establish American sources... Read More