Diagnostics & Imaging Week and Staff Reports

Nine medical devices have advanced to a hospital-based evaluation by England's National Health Service (NHS) for effectiveness in screening and preventing healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs).

NHS research concluded up to 8% of incoming patients at hospitals are carriers of one superbug, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), compared to just over 1% who are infected while they are in hospital.

Several NHS hospital trusts have mandated screening of all incoming patients to combat the spread of this superbug as well as five other pathogens responsible for in-hospital infections.

In a systemwide effort, the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency set up the Smart Solutions program to identify innovative technologies from different industry sectors with the potential to fight hospital bugs.

Almost 250 applications were submitted and the nine selected devices will be evaluated in a hospital setting starting soon at more than 30 NHS hospitals that offered to serve as an evaluation site for the Smart Solutions program.

An international HCAI Technology Innovation Summit is set for Feb. 26 as a kickoff for the evaluation program and to highlight innovations and technological developments in the field.

The finalists in the competition represent diverse approaches to controlling infection and the evaluations will not result in a single winner but recommendations with all nine companies potentially earning the prize of supplying the entire NHS network if they prove to be effective.

Among the selected technologies are products developed by Baxter Healthcare (Deerfield, Illinois), Chemspec (Baltimore), GE Healthcare (Chalfont St. Giles, UK) with Medixair (Brierley Hill, UK), UV Light Technology (Oldbury, UK), Inov8 Science (Buckingham, UK), Quest International UK (Ashford, UK), TwistDx (Cambridge, UK), Ergomedica (Bucks, UK), and Nanopool (Hülzweiler-Schwalbach, Germany).

Baxter is proposing the V-link luer-activated device with VitalShield protective coating, an antimicrobial needle-free IV connector using the controlled release of silver particles effective in killing the six most common pathogens causing catheter-related bloodstream infections as a result of IV therapy.

Medixair proposes use of a high-intensity ultraviolet germicidal irradiation through wall-mounted and portable units with UV tubes from GE for eradication of airborne bacteria, viruses, yeasts and mold.

Ergomedica's MedMat is a self-contained changing mat developed by a surgeon from the Royal London and Barts Hospital Trust that protects both patient and caregivers from cross contamination during procedures that requires a sterile field.

Nanopool proposes a liquid glass layering technology for enhancing working surfaces with new anti-microbial properties by applying ultra thin nano layers of silicon dioxide, the primary element in common glass, modified by aluminium oxide, potassium oxide, calcium oxide and other components. The nano coatings are transparent and super-durable glass, with characteristic having what the company calls "massive implications for healthcare environments."

TwistDx has developed a novel point-of-care test technology using recombinase polymerase amplification, an evolution of the widely used diagnostic technique polymerase chain reaction that the company says is faster, taking from 10 to 15 minutes, with a portable instrument that brings the test to any setting to be administered by caregivers rather than by trained technician in a laboratory.

Aussie researchers developing CAD test

Researchers in Australia are reporting an advance toward the first urine test for diagnosing coronary artery disease (CAD), the condition responsible for most of the 1.5 million heart attacks that occur in the U.S. each year.

The test could save lives in the future by allowing earlier diagnosis and monitoring of the disease, which is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., the researchers say. Their report appeared in the November issue of the journal Proteome Research.

In the new study, Karlheinze Peter and colleagues note that the most reliable test for diagnosing CAD is angiography, an invasive test in which doctors inject special dyes into the body to visualize, via X-rays, fatty plaque deposits in the arteries of the heart. However, the technique is invasive, expensive, time-consuming, and may miss CAD in its earliest stages, they say.

To develop a faster, more convenient test, the scientists collected urine samples from a group of 67 patients – 41 with CAD and 26 without – and analyzed the samples for differences in protein content. Using a newly developed method, they identified a group of 17 peptides (building blocks of proteins) that appear to be directly associated with CAD.

These urine-based peptides indicated the presence of the disease with an 84% accuracy rate when compared to CAD cases confirmed using angiography, the researchers say, underscoring their potential for diagnostic screening.

1st installation in Mexico for Ablatherm

EDAP TMS (Lyon, France) reported the first installation of its Ablatherm-HIFU (high-intensity focused ultrasound) machine at Centro Medico Puerta de Hierro Hospital (Guadalajara, Mexico) under a revenue-per-procedure contract.

Dr. Jorge Gutierrez Aceves, MD, head of the Prostate Institute at Centro Medico Puerta de Hierro Hospital, said, "We are excited to be the first hospital in Mexico to launch and successfully perform Ablatherm-HIFU procedures. We see great promise for Ablatherm-HIFU as a targeted, minimally invasive treatment for localized prostate cancer and look forward to offering this treatment to more patients in the weeks to come.'"

Ablatherm-HIFU is generally recommended for patients with localized prostate cancer (stages T1-T2) who are not candidates for surgery or who prefer an alternative option, or for patients who failed radiotherapy treatment. Ablatherm-HIFU is approved in Europe and is currently undergoing evaluation in a multi-center U.S. Phase II/III clinical trial under an Investigational Device Exemption granted by the FDA.

The company also is developing the technology for the potential treatment of certain other types of tumors.

EDAP TMS also produces medical equipment for treatment of urinary tract stones using extra-corporeal shockwave lithotripsy.

MDS seeks to boost value

MDS (Toronto) reported that it has constituted a committee of independent directors to support the company's continuing process of reviewing alternatives to improve shareholder value. The board of directors is reviewing the performance of MDS and looking for options to improve returns to shareholders.

Goldman, Sachs & Co. and RBC Capital Markets are assisting the company and the board as financial advisors.

MDS emphasized that there can be no assurance that the process will result in any specific strategic or financial transaction, especially given the uncertain market and current economic conditions. No timetable has been set for its completion.

MDS does pharmaceutical contract research and provides medical isotopes for molecular imaging, radiotherapeutics and analytical instruments. The company has more than 5,000 employees in 29 countries.