India is facing a severe shortage of imported medical radioisotopes for use in nuclear diagnostic procedures and treatment of heart, bone and kidney ailments and plans to produce a type of Molybdenum-based isotope that would be freely available.
The high specific activity and user-friendly radioisotope--Molybdenum-99 (Moly99)--would be produced through the nuclear fission route using low enriched uranium (LEU), BARC sources said on Thursday.
Most of the nuclear medicine centres (NMCs) and hospitals which import this widely used radioisotope are hit by severe shortage after one of its major global suppliers, the 52-year-old Canadian National Research Universal (NRU) in Chalk River, Ontario was shut down in May this year.
"Therefore, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is planning to embark on production of user-friendly Moly99 through a fission route with LEU, as soon as possible, by augmenting processing capacity to increase the needed production of fission Moly99," BARC sources told PTI.
BARC will produce this fission Moly99 initially in its existing research reactor Dhruva in Trombay, sources said.
From Molybdenum-99 its sister product Technetium-99 (99mTc) is milked which is used for diagnosis and treatment of ailments including those relating to heart, kidney and bones.
"At least 500 procedures are carried out everyday in the country especially for heart, bones, kidneys and lungs using Technetium-Mo99 and due to the global shortage, Indian hospitals could be hit badly in the coming months," Dr BA Krishna, Head Nuclear Medicine of Hinduja hospital said.