News Release

MU Research Reactor announces commercial shipments of breakthrough radioisotope for cancer treatment

The University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) is the only U.S. supplier of the radioisotope, produced using a propriety process developed at MURR

Business Announcement

University of Missouri-Columbia



Chris McCarty, a University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) shipping technician, loads shipping casks containing radioisotopes used in cancer treatments and research around the world. MURR saves and improves lives as the only U.S. producer of four critical radioisotopes used in the treatment of liver, thyroid, pancreatic and prostate cancers.

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Credit: University of Missouri

Columbia, Missouri — The University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) recently completed its first commercial shipment of no-carrier-added lutetium-177 (NCA Lu-177) for human use and is providing weekly deliveries to Novartis for use in cancer treatments. These shipments are a significant milestone in a yearslong development project by researchers at MURR.

The MU Research Reactor is the sole producer in the United States of NCA Lu-177 for cancer treatment. Researchers at MU first identified the potential of the lutetium isotope as a treatment for cancer nearly 25 years ago, and the university has been instrumental in research and development of lutetium since that time. 

“The shipments of lutetium continue our strong collaboration with Novartis and will improve and save lives,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri. “Together with Novartis, MURR and MU are uniquely positioned to discover, research and create leading-edge treatments that will benefit cancer patients in Missouri, across the United States and around the world.”

Lutetium-177 (Lu-177) is the active ingredient in two targeted radioligand therapies commercially produced by Novartis for cancer treatment. NCA Lu-177 is a highly pure form of the Lu-177 radionuclide, produced in a new radiochemical processing suite, specifically designed for lutetium production. A drug master file (DMF) for the MURR-developed process, was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 31.

“The NCA Lu-177 deliveries highlight the reason our researchers and staff work hard every day,” said Matt Sanford, executive director at MURR. “From initial research and development to production, quality assurance, and shipping – all of our radiopharmaceutical efforts are focused on the ultimate goal of treating patients and improving lives.”  

These shipments of NCA Lu-177 mark the beginning of the commercial phase of a multiyear supply agreement between MURR and Novartis. 

About MURR

The work at the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) improves and saves lives every day. MURR’s innovative design and year-round operating cycle enables it to produce the active pharmaceutical ingredients in multiple FDA-approved drugs. More than 1.6 million patients last year were diagnosed or treated using the radioisotopes that MURR produces. Because of MURR’s unique capabilities, it is a vital resource for cancer patients, health care providers, researchers and industrial partners in Missouri and around the globe. MU’s initiative to build a new, state-of-the art reactor — NextGen MURR – will expand the university's critical cancer-fighting research and medical isotope production, creating an innovation hub for nuclear medicine.

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