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NorthStar finds way to produce medical isotope quickly, safely

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

As problems go, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC was founded on a big one.

Production issues at several nuclear power plants outside the U.S. during the last few years and worries about nuclear proliferation prompted the federal government in 2009 to look for ways to make a critical medical isotope more safely and closer to home.

Fortunately for NorthStar, its principals understood the situation and were already working on a solution.

Now the Madison company, which plans to eventually move its headquarters to Beloit, says it hopes to get approval from federal regulators and begin shipping that solution to nuclear pharmacies by the second quarter of 2012.

NorthStar is aiming to use that solution to produce as much as half of the required U.S. supply of the medical isotope, called technetium-99m, within the next two to three years, said George Messina, NorthStar's managing director. The company also could eventually hire as many as 150 people in Rock County, mostly for scientific positions, he said.

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