TU Delft to produce medical isotopes

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The Technical University in Delft is going to produce medical isotopes in emergencies for cancer patients in hospital. The university has decided to make changes to its nuclear reactor so that it can produce the radioactive isotopes as there are only five nuclear reactors in the whole world which can commercially produce the life-saving material.

The isotope, Molybdeen-99, is used by doctors to trace tumors in patients, the isotope collects in a tumor and gamma rays show its exact position and size. Every year 300 patients are tested in the Netherlands with Molybdeen-99.

TU Delft offered to act as a safety net for the nuclear plant on the Dutch coast at Petten, because the production of isotopes comes under pressure when maintenance work put any of the reactors out of action. Now the Ministry of Health has given the university the go ahead.

The reactors in Canada and Petten are the world's most important isotope producers. Last year, while maintenance work was being carried out at the Canadian plant, the one at Petten had to be closed down because of a leak. Isotope production at Petten only restarted two weeks ago, only just averting an acute shortage. The TU Delft reactor will produce enough isotopes for Dutch hospitals.




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