* MDS says companies could explore forming joint venture
* Unit aims to supply up to 20 percent of global supply
* MDS shares rise 1.8 percent
TORONTO, Sept 23 Canada's MDS Nordion MDS.TO,
one of the world's largest provider of isotopes used to
diagnose cancer, said on Thursday a state-owned Russian
producer will become one of its suppliers, providing a cushion
against further shutdowns of an aging Canadian reactor.
A unit of Rosatom State Corp will supply MDS with
molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the most prominent isotope used in
nuclear medicine. It is the parent isotope for technetium-99m,
used in roughly 80 percent of nuclear medicine procedures
globally. Applications include diagnosing heart disease or
detecting hard-to-find cancers.
MDS said it will exclusively process, distribute and sell
Mo-99 supplied by Rosatom's Isotope unit outside Russia until
2020. In addition, the two companies may form joint ventures
and other programs.
MDS said the deal will help offset the impact of any more
shutdowns at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd's (AECL) Chalk River
nuclear reactor in Ontario, the main supplier of isotopes to
Chalk River is one of the few reactors in the world that
produce commercial quantities of Mo-99. Isotope aims to join
While MDS sees limited supplies initially, it said the goal
is for the Rosatom unit to produce up to 20 percent of global
Mo-99 demand to help back up MDS's long-term requirements.
Chalk River, which reopened recently, closed in May 2009
when the AECL discovered a heavy water leak at the facility,
also known as the National Research Universal reactor. MDS took
a severe hit following the closure.
The 53-year-old NRU is the world's oldest reactor. When it
is in full operation, it has provided about 35 to 40 percent of
the world's medical isotopes and roughly 50 percent of those
used in North America.
Given the reactor's age, MDS has been exploring other
supply options. Last week, it said that market demand has
become uncertain following the shutdown of the aging reactor,
forcing MDS's customers to diversify supply sources.
Canada plans to spend C$35 million over next two years to
help develop new technology to produce medical isotopes.
The Ottawa-based company was known as MDS Inc until last
year when it sold off its other businesses to focus on nuclear
imaging, radiotherapy and sterilization technologies. By the
end of 2010, it plans to change its name once again, to Nordion
Shares of the Ottawa-based company were up 19 Canadian
cents, or 1.8 percent, at C$10.53 on the Toronto Stock Exchange
midmorning on Thursday.
(Reporting by Solarina Ho, additional reporting by Ashutosh
Joshi in Bangalore) ((firstname.lastname@example.org;+1 416 941
8067; Reuters Messaging: