Isotopes: Questions & Answers

Q: What are Medical Isotopes?

Isotopes are a form of a chemical element with the same atomic number as another element but with a different atomic mass.  Medical isotopes also known as radioisotopes are used in molecular imaging, therapy, and nuclear medicine to diagnose, manage and treat diseases.

Physicians need isotopes to practice nuclear medicine, radiation oncology, and perform a variety of non-invasive diagnostic testing such as SPECT and PET scans. Nuclear medicine is the use of innovative medical techniques employing isotopes for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

More than 18 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed each year in the U.S.  Approximately one-third of all patients admitted to U.S. hospitals undergo at least one medical procedure that employs the use of medical isotopes. 

LPII’s objective is to empower physicians, medical researchers, and ultimately, patients, by providing them with essential medical isotopes that, until now, have not been practical or economical to produce, in an effort to detect, manage, and cure human disease, and improve the lives of patients.

Today, LPII is focused on obtaining regulatory approval for, and then commercializing, brachytherapy cancer devices that use the yttrium-90 isotope.  Over time, LPII also intends to introduce products and technologies that utilize other isotopes and modalities.

Global Radioisotope Market is Growing *

➢     Valued at $3.2 billion for 2010

➢     Expected to reach $4.7 billion by 2015

➢     Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1% from 2010 to 2015

➢     Over 10,000 hospitals worldwide use medical isotopes – 90% for diagnosis 

➢     30 million procedures per year worldwide use Technetium-99 / Molybdenum-99

➢     In the United States there are about 18 million nuclear medical procedures per year

➢     The use of medical isotopes in diagnosis is growing at over 10% per year

* All data from World Nuclear Association, Oct. 2011

Q: What is Brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy is an advanced Cancer treatment. Radioactive seeds or sources are placed in or near the tumor itself, giving a high radiation dose to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure in the surrounding healthy tissues. The term “brachy” is Greek for short distance. Brachytherapy is radiation therapy given at a short distance: localized, precise, and high-tech.

Q: What is PET Imaging?

Positron Emission Tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging.

PET imaging is used for cancer diagnosis, staging and research, heart and brain imaging and evaluation of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and Parkinson’s.

Many of the isotopes used for the above indications are not limited to a single production method, but can be manufactured in a variety of accelerator types and configurations.

Q: What is Molydenum-99?

Mo-99 is the most widely used medical isotope in the world and is facing a critical shortage due to a small number of processing facilities and aging reactors. In response to this ongoing crisis, AMIC is developing methods to produce Mo-99 and other radioisotopes using compact production systems instead of archaic nuclear reactors. AMIC is currently developing production programs that will yield high amounts Mo-99 at significantly lower costs than nuclear plant methods, and is in line to become the first domestic producer of this imported isotope.