SHINE Medical Technologies has gotten long-awaited regulatory approval to build a Janesville plant.
The company wants to become the first domestic producer of molybdenum-99, an isotope often used in medical imaging but sourced from foreign nuclear reactors. In 2013, SHINE applied for a construction permit with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which hasn’t signed off on a similar request since the 1960s.
“It really is a historical moment, and we just have worked so hard for this,” said Katrina Pitas, the company’s VP for business development. “It’s really a fantastic day for everyone at SHINE.”
The company still needs a permit to operate the facility, but yesterday’s was a significant hurdle cleared for the Monona-based company. SHINE’s competitors include NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which is working with the University of Missouri to produce moly-99. NorthStar uses a different technology to separate the isotope.
The isotope, which decays into technetium-99m, is mainly used to diagnose heart disease and to see whether cancer has spread to the bone.
“It makes the bones light up wherever there’s abnormal growth or an abnormal cell multiplication,” Pitas said.
Already, SHINE has supply agreements with General Electric and Lantheus Medical Imaging.
SHINE hopes to reach more than a billion patients when its Janesville facility becomes operational in 2019, as the company expects. By then, the company hopes to have 150 employees, up from some 25 right now.
It’s raised about $50 million so far for its efforts and expects to raise more going forward.
“Having the construction permit in hand and having two supply agreements with major customers puts us in a very good position,” Pitas said.
— By Polo Rocha,
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that NorthStar is not awaiting a construction permit from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.