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Dept of Energy Grant to Stellarray to Replace Cesium 137

22 July 2015

Stellarray, Inc., an Austin developer of novel x-ray sources, announced today that it has been awarded a $1.15 Mn grant by the Department of Energy to develop and bring to market a new generation of irradiators that will increase productivity in radiobiology research while helping to solve an important national security problem.   Cell, tissue and other biological subjects are irradiated now in a diverse range of research fields, including cancer development and therapy, immunology, DNA damage and repair, drug development and genetics.   Many of the irradiators, however, use radioactive cesium 137, identified by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as the single most dangerous radioactive isotope since it is the most likely material for a “dirty bomb.”   All of the current supply of cesium 137, moreover, comes from one source in Russia.  The grant to Stellarray has been awarded under the Small Business Innovation Research Program as a combined 30-month Phase I/Phase II Fast-Track project and will be administered by the DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Stellarray will develop three versions of research irradiators in this project – one for high dose rate studies, one for high energy and another for digital addressing of small samples in standard “micro-well plates”, a key tool in today’s laboratory automation industry.   All of them will use Stellarray’s patented Flat Panel X-ray Source (FPXS), a new kind of x-ray source which is more powerful, efficient, compact and versatile than the classical x-ray tube.   Using this new source allows Stellarray to make irradiation devices which are smaller, programmable and easier to use than the alternatives.   Since no radioactive materials are involved, these devices are also safer for users and the public at large.   Stellarray plans to market the three irradiator versions, replacement x-ray sources and specially adapted micro-well plates to the radiobiology and radiochemistry research communities.

Mark Eaton, CEO of Stellarray, said “This grant follows on one we received last year for the development of our blood irradiator, also to replace cesium 137.  Blood transfusion and research applications account for 99% of all the cesium activity in the U.S., so we can largely eliminate the security risk from this isotope by delivering attractive alternatives to these user communities.  The research irradiators will build on the technology base we have developed for the blood irradiator, but require new advances in power, voltage and digitization.   Both the blood and research irradiators will also be good businesses where we can offer uniquely valuable and highly differentiated products to customers who have needed alternatives for a long time.”

Stellarray began operations in 2008 to make novel radiation sources and systems using them.  The company has developed manufacturing systems for FPXS and irradiators according to ISO 13485 medical device standards in a fully-equipped laboratory and manufacturing facility in north Austin.   The company is also developing digital versions of its x-ray sources for use in next generation computed tomography systems and phase contrast imaging.  For further information please contact eaton@stellar-ray.com.