A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Baylor University Medical Center (Dallas) said it is the first hospital in the country to collaborate with GE Healthcare (Chalfont St. Giles, UK) and BrainLAB (Feldkirchen, Germany) to open technically advanced neurosurgery operating room (OR) suites that will allow neurosurgeons to use real-time, intra-operative images of the brain during surgery. The $16.5 million operating suites will be the first to combine the BrainSUITE iMRI and GE Healthcare MR Surgical Suite, Baylor Dallas said.

The four operating room suites opened last week and are equipped to use a high-definition magnetic resonance (MR) scanner and BrainSUITE iMRI navigation system that will help physicians more accurately view a tumor's location and remove diseased tissue, Baylor Dallas said.

"We're bringing together three leading healthcare companies to implement an innovative suite that will enhance the neurosurgeon's ability to provide quality neurosurgical care," said Christopher Michael, MD, medical director for neurosurgical operating rooms, and neurosurgeon on the medical staff at Baylor Dallas.

The new technically advanced OR suite at Baylor Dallas will consist of two adjacent rooms specifically dedicated to neurological care. One room will be a neurosurgery operating theater while the other will be a neuroradiology room with a high-definition 1.5T MR scanner. An advanced transport system between the two rooms allows patients to be moved from the OR to the MR scanner and back during surgery.

Three additional neurosurgical suites were also opened. The BrainSUITE iMRI navigation system links the operating room with real-time, intra-operative images of the brain from the MR scanner with the spatial position of the surgical instruments. This provides the physician a more accurate representation of the tumor's location and helps the physician verify the complete removal of a brain tumor during the actual surgery, Baylor Dallas said.

"The real-time images we will be able to use in the new OR suite will help us make great strides in improving outcomes for our neurosurgical patients," Michael said.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• SeqWright (Houston) reported a collaboration with Roche Applied Science (Basel, Switzerland) and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The research focuses on a major study to help identify possible genetic variants associated with dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of heart muscle.

In this collaboration SeqWright used NimbleGen Sequence Capture Human Exome Arrays to enrich over 180,000 exons from DNA samples from individuals affected with dilated cardiomyopathy. Using the Genome Sequencer FLX, a technology of 454 Life Sciences, SeqWright is sequencing the enriched exons to detect genetic variants within these samples, including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and insertions and deletions.

The complete solution from Roche allows targeted re-sequencing of all of the coding exons, called the human exome, representing the portion of the human genome that is transcribed and translated into the myriad of proteins that function within all cells in the human body.

• InSight Health (Lake Forest, California) said it has reached a three-year agreement with Quorum Health Resources (QHR; Brentwood, Tennessee), a national hospital management company, to become a contracted supplier of diagnostic imaging mobile shared services.

InSight will provide QHR's network of about 150 client hospitals access to MRI, CT, and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT).

"We are very excited to partner with QHR as its strategic service provider of diagnostic imaging services," said Steven King, executive vice president of sales and marketing for InSight Imaging. "With the economy affecting our already fragile healthcare system, it is imperative that we continue to form strategic partnerships with hospital networks such as QHR, so that we can provide a fiscally responsible solution for their short and long term imaging needs."

InSight provides diagnostic imaging services through a network of fixed-site centers and mobile facilities.

• Applied Biosystems (Carlsbad, California), a division of Life Technologies, reported that scientists at bioMérieux (Marcy l'Etoile, France) and the Institute of Analytical Sciences of the University of Lyon (Lyon, France) are collaborating on research to advance the discovery of biomarkers that can be used to diagnose or monitor disease. They are using next-generation, mass spectrometry technology with integrated triple quadrupole and linear accelerator trap to validate newly identified candidate biomarkers.

To accomplish their goals, the researchers are deploying AB SCIEX QTRAP 5500 systems designed to rapidly quantify dozens of protein and peptide biomarkers in a single analysis. The AB SCIEX QTRAP 5500 system, which was developed by the Applied Biosystems/MDS Analytical Technologies joint venture, offers greater reproducibility and precision than other mass spectrometry platforms and provides faster and more specific results than the current clinical standard of antibody-based testing, making this new technology ideal for protein biomarker validation, according to the company. AB SCIEX QTRAP 5500 systems are being used to develop simple, robust assays for detecting biomarkers that could then be transferred into standard testing procedures in diagnostic laboratories.

Biomarkers are indicators of the presence or progression of a disease that offer a quick and easy method for diagnosing or monitoring patients for a range of conditions, including cancers as well as infectious and degenerative diseases. Extensive research is required to clarify the exact role and significance of each newly discovered candidate biomarker, which is a process that can take several years to complete, the company noted. The scientists from bioMérieux and the University of Lyon are combining their respective expertise in biomarker discovery and protein mass spectrometry to accelerate this biomarker validation process.

• Palladian Health (West Seneca, New York) reported a technology development partnership to implement ClinicaCDS, a clinical decision support service, as part of its recently disclosed program, Palladian Coordinated Spine Care.

According to the company, Palladian Coordinated Spine Care is a "revolutionary" clinically integrated program that will help patients and clinicians deal with back pain. Spine care costs have reached national epidemic proportions and are estimated to be over $194 billion annually in direct costs alone, the company said. Palladian Coordinated Spine Care provides interactive web based Clinical Decision Support to patients and clinicians to deliver evidence based treatment recommendations at the point of care.

In addition to the use of ClinicaCDS, Palladian Coordinated Spine Care will provide care management outreach to patients with back pain, educational and messaging campaigns on back pain and appropriate treatment methods and utilization management of high cost invasive or unsupported procedures. Palladian Coordinated Spine Care will integrate with each client's benefit management and data infrastructure, coordinating and leveraging already existing capabilities and clinical information.

Palladian and Religent (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina) have agreed to jointly develop Palladian CareManager, an application that will integrate on a real time basis with ClinicaCDS and Palladian's broad set of clinical data to facilitate Palladian's care management programs. Religent and Clinica have agreed that Palladian is their exclusive partner for muscular skeletal and diagnostic imaging initiatives.

Religent is a software development company that serves the life sciences and healthcare markets. ClinicaCDS is a decision support application that was originally developed by two Duke University (Durham, North Carolina) faculty members. ClinicaCDS is a centralized, scalable and standards based decision support system that is currently being used in a number of clinical settings such as: disease management, population health management, and breast cancer screening.