A Medical Device Daily

VeriChip (Delray Beach, Florida) and its development partner, Receptors (Chaska, Minnesota), reported plans to develop surveillance and point-of-care sensor systems that efficiently detect and identify the presence of a particular biological threat such as influenza virus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or other illnesses.

The companies published a white paper outlining the development of "An Integrated Sensor System for the Detection of Bio-Threats from Pandemics to Emerging Diseases to Bio-Terrorism," which is available on VeriChip's website at www.verichipcorp.com.

According to the companies, the products currently in the marketplace to detect and identify such biological threats fail to provide a comprehensive solution for threat detection and, importantly, are not stable or scalable. Additionally, current testing methods are typically too specific to effectively screen for the broad range of potential agents, the companies noted.

Current methods also may require specialized sample handling in a laboratory setting and take in excess of 24 hours to produce results. The companies' products are expected to produce results on-site within 20 minutes against a broad range of potential biological threats in a method that is environmentally stable and economically scalable.

"Through our development partnership with VeriChip, we are focused on building an integrated suite of products that will identify a biological threat, from pandemic influenza and multiple-resistant pathogens like MRSA, to food borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli," said Robert Carlson, PhD, president/CSO at Receptors. "The combination of our CARA platform and VeriChip's signal transduction and communication capabilities provide both the technology and the expertise required to build the integrated bio-threat sensor system."

Last week, VeriChip reported that it has expanded its existing development partnership with Receptors, beyond the glucose-sensing RFID implantable microchip to include other biological and environmental applications. Receptors recently received Patent No. 7,504,364 titled "Methods of Making Arrays and Artificial Receptors" and Patent No. 7,469,076 "Sensors Employing Combinatorial Artificial Receptors," which are being applied to the development of diagnostic and sensor platforms for pathogens and other biological threats.

"As we continue to build on our partnership with Receptors, which started with the development of a glucose-sensing RFID implantable microchip, we are moving beyond patient identification to sensors that can detect and identify illnesses and viruses such as influenza," said VeriChip Chairman Scott Silverman. "This is an exciting next step for the future of our healthcare division."

Receptors, a private company, says its Affinity by Design technology is the foundation of its Smart Materials product platform. Each product incorporates its core competence of surface functionalization for selective binding. This high-throughput approach to the development of stable, selective and scalable binding environments can be tailored to any product and application, Receptors noted.

VeriChip has developed the VeriMed Health Link System for rapidly and accurately identifying people who arrive in an emergency room and are unable to communicate. This system uses the first human-implantable passive RFID microchip, cleared for medical use in October 2004 by FDA. To complement its healthcare division, VeriChip established VeriGreen Energy in March to focus and invest in the clean and alternative energy sector.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Aspyra (Calabasas, California) reported an agreement with Springfield Clinic (Springfield, Illinois) to upgrade the laboratory's existing laboratory information system (LIS) to the most current release of Aspyra's CyberLAB LIS solution, version 7.2.

Springfield Clinic has been an Aspyra LIS customer since 1996. The clinic's laboratory network is comprised of 20 locations servicing nearly 200 physicians in 40 specialties.

According to the company, Aspyra's CyberLAB LIS is a scalable, feature-rich, and cost-effective LIS solution for hospital, clinic, and reference laboratory settings. Springfield Clinic will be implementing CyberLAB 7.2 on a Windows platform, utilizing a MS SQL database structure. CyberLAB LIS features decision support tools with auto-verification, automated clinical reporting and multisite management.

• Affiliated Computer Services (ACS; Dallas) reported a five-year, $84 million contract with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to manage its Medicaid program.

ACS will provide fiscal agent and provider enrollment services for the Commonwealth's Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS). The contract includes a 14-month transition and solutions enhancement period followed by four base years of operations. Additionally, four optional one-year extensions allow for a potential nine-year contract term, the company noted.

ACS will assume the existing MMIS system and deliver additional system enhancements providing long-term operational improvements and cost savings to the Commonwealth. Specific improvements will include facilitating online provider enrollment and a Web portal, which will give providers 24/7 point-of-access for claims entry, prior authorizations, retrieval of recipient eligibility, download of remittance advices and messaging.