Tri-Cities' Company Wants to Mass Produce Medical Isotopes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-Cities' Company Wants to Mass Produce Medical Isotopes

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KENNEWICK, Wash-- A Tri-Cities company says a vital cancer treatment is becoming less available and they could be another source. This week a reactor in Europe that makes cancer fighting isotopes shut down.

Medical isotopes are a very important cancer treatment, but the shelf life of an isotope is just a few days. In our country alone 40,000  are needed each day. Without isotopes, cancer patients have to use more invasive options like chemotherapy. 

Isotopes are credited for helping save Senator Ted Kennedy's life and are used 19 million times a year in North America, yet we rely on foreign countries for 94 percent of our supply. 

"This is why we have pressed on at Fast Flux Test Facility that could be a backup for other regions of the world when they are down," said Claude Oliver, lobbyist for isotopes.

The Fast Flux Test Facility, now an inactive nuclear reactor, could have the capability to supply America's isotope needs.

"This is why the vision for the community is to step into that and build and medical isotope cluster to provide scientists with knowledge and background there so critical to this industry, a great avenue for what this nation needs," said Oliver.

In The Netherlands, an isotope producing reactor just shut down, cutting off a major supply to the world. These isotopes are helping treat several cancers.

"Non Hodgkins Lymphoma which has had 95 percent cure rate that was developed with a partnership among scientists in the Tri-Cities," said Gary Troyer, Chair of Citizens for Medical Isotopes.

In March this year Jesse Jackson came to the Tri-Cities to help unveil a new unique machine at Advanced Medical Isotope Corporation (AMIC). It makes isotopes without using nuclear energy

"This accelerator is a unique machine and it's the only one in North America used for this kind of application," said Bill Stokes, President of AMIC.