MDS Nordion, a leading global provider of medical isotopes and radiopharmaceuticals used in molecular medicine, and TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, announced on Tuesday, April 28, 2009, that they have signed an agreement to study the feasibility of producing a viable and reliable supply of photo-fission-produced molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) used globally for diagnostic medical imaging. MDS Nordion and TRIUMF will also provide their respective expertise and resources to collaboratively develop a commercialization plan, which will include an operational plan, business model and time lines.
Medical isotopes produced using photo-fission employ the use of a linear accelerator rather than a nuclear reactor; as such, the need to ship and handle highly enriched uranium is eliminated in favour of naturally occurring uranium. This method also provides a potential alternate solution through which to supplement the production capacity of Mo-99, and lessen the reliance on existing nuclear research reactors. The photo-fission technology is based superconducting radio-frequency cavities to achieve the high levels of beam power.
"This integrated collaboration is a positive step toward achieving an additional medical-isotope solution to meet the increased needs of the global nuclear medicine community," said MDS Nordion President Steve West. "With the superior level of the science at TRIUMF, combined with Nordion's market and technical expertise, we seek to provide a flexible, reliable and responsive medical-isotope solution to potentially strengthen the global supply chain."
Statistics from Arlington Medical Resources, Inc., a Philadelphia-based pharmaceutical market research firm, show that every year more than 15 million patients in North America are diagnosed or treated with nuclear medicine procedures. Today, 80% of these procedures rely on one key medical isotope, Mo-99, which is largely used to diagnose heart disease and cancer.
"MDS Nordion's processing experience and TRIUMF's proven knowledge of physics, and accelerator and target expertise is a strong combination," said TRIUMF Director Nigel Lockyer. "MDS Nordion's significant market presence, along with TRIUMF's science and technology proficiencies, could create a great opportunity through which to address the increasing domestic and international demand for molybdenum-99." Lockyer added, "This is another great example of the science and technology of physics combining with the business knowledge of the private-sector to make a positive difference in people's lives."
MDS Nordion and TRIUMF have a 30-year history of successful partnership with a renewed commitment focused on research and development. This commercial relationship has resulted in a number of pioneering developments - including receipt in 2004 of the NSERC Synergy Award for Innovation for the most outstanding achievements of university-industry collaboration. Building on this established foundation, the agreement between MDS Nordion and TRIUMF to study the feasibility of producing a viable and reliable supply of photo-fission Mo-99 for diagnostic medical imaging continues to use both partners' complementary expertise and skills in the field of molecular imaging technology.
--By T.I. Meyer (based on MDS Nordion/TRIUMF Press Release)