A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Cepheid (Sunnyvale, California) said Health Canada has issued a medical device license for the company's Xpert MRSA/SA Blood Culture (BC) test for the rapid detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Staphylococcus aureus (SA) in blood culture bottles showing gram-positive cocci.

The company said that, with results reporting in less than one hour, the Xpert MRSA/SA BC test "was designed to empower physicians with a new tool to aid in selecting the most effective antibiotic therapy to improve patient management and outcomes."

Rob Koska, Cepheid's senior VP of worldwide commercial operations, said, "Xpert MRSA/SA BC results enable physicians to initiate targeted therapy in septic patients far sooner than current culture-based methods — an important advancement in the timely management of potentially life-threatening infections."

He added, "With the addition of [this] . . . test, Canadian institutions are now armed with another tool in the armamentarium for the rapid detection of MRSA and SA and overall management of infections."

Xpert MRSA/SA BC processes positive blood culture specimens to determine if a patient's blood is infected with MRSA or SA, frequent causes of sepsis in hospitalized patients. "This can enable physicians to quickly de-escalate from broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment to a more effective targeted therapy, thus reducing risk of resistance and improving patient outcomes," Cepheid said.

Typically, physicians will order a set of blood culture bottles drawn from patients presenting with symptoms of systemic infections. Currently, those additional tests — most notably to determine if the organism is methicillin-resistant or methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus — are done via slower culture testing methods.

According to a recent six-year Queens University study, published in the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, more than 250,000 Canadian patients experience infected surgical wounds, blood infections, and antibiotic resistant organisms while in the hospital each year. The study also states that, since 1999, rates of MRSA have more than doubled — from 2 to 5.2 per 1,000 hospital admissions across Canada.

Increased Chilean presence for Sigma-Aldrich

Sigma-Aldrich (St. Louis) has expanded its presence in Chile to directly serve research and manufacturing customers throughout the country. The company said it has acquired Sigal Ltda (Santiago), its primary distributor in Chile, and established Sigma-Aldrich Quimica Ltda to provide a foundation for future growth in the country.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Building on our strong customer base in Chile and throughout Latin America is a long-term strategy for Sigma-Aldrich," said Eric Green, vice president of international sales and operations. "We experienced 20% sales growth in Latin America in 2008 alone, and we believe our expanded presence in Chile, which will integrate sales, marketing and distribution, provides a solid base for consistent growth in the years to come."

The expansion in Chile is part of the company's strategic plan to accelerate growth in Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America to 25% of corporate sales by 2010. As part of that strategy, Sigma-Aldrich established a representative office in Vietnam last October to serve the country's expanding research and manufacturing sectors.

Sigal Ltda was established in 1997 to supply research products to customers in Chile. Its general manager, Patricia Bravo, will become Sigma-Aldrich's sales and marketing manager for Chile.

Sigma-Aldrich's chemical and biochemical products and kits are used in scientific research, including genomic and proteomic research, biotechnology, pharmaceutical development and as components in pharmaceutical, diagnostic and other manufacturing.

European project uses ANSYS software

Clinicians will soon have a better understanding of how to manage cerebral aneurysms, thanks to a European project that uses simulation software from ANSYS (Canonsburg, Pennsylvania).

The @neurIST project is an initiative that seeks to integrate biomedical informatics in the management of cerebral aneurysms. It has combined simulation software and a series of linked tools called a "toolchain" to provide individualized aneurysm rupture predictions.

The toolchain combines diverse, independent tools into an integrated suite, in which the output of one tool becomes the input for the next. ANSYS said the resulting automated workflow "brings together multiple strands of patient data — including CT scans, X-rays, angiograms and other routine test results — transforming them into 3-D representations that are the basis for dynamic simulations."

ANSYS President/CEO Jim Cashman said. "@neurIST . . . fuses diagnostic, modeling and simulation data into a coherent representation of a patient's condition."

Project partners are collecting and analyzing clinical data in expectation of developing best practices and, perhaps, identifying the underlying causes of the condition.

"The aim of the @neurIST project is to transform the management of the condition by providing new insight, personalized risk assessment and methods for the design of improved medical devices and enhanced treatment protocols," said Alejandro Frangi of Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain), which is coordinating the @neurIST project.

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