A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Biofield (King of Prussia, Pennsylvania), which develops and acquires noninvasive diagnostic medical devices to assist in detecting and preventing cancer and other illnesses, reported that it has acquired additional products for its portfolio of non-invasive cancer diagnostic products.

Specifically, Biofield has acquired the exclusive worldwide distribution rights outside of Belgium for ValiRx's (London) human papilloma virus (HPV) diagnostic test for cervical cancer, as well as for ValioRx's HyperGenomics and Nucleosomic cancer diagnostics products.

While the company's initial focus was on securing FDA approval to distribute its Biofield Diagnostic System (the BDS) for the early detection of breast cancer in the U.S., it has reoriented and expanded its energies to focus on offering non-invasive and cost effective technologies, on an easily accessible basis, to the world's largest population centers.

Biofield said it anticipates achieving its goal by generating sales of the BDS in foreign markets and acquiring other non-invasive detection and prevention technologies. The company is currently focusing on distributing its product portfolio in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia, Mexico, Latin America and Europe.

The company also opened an office in Bangalore, India, where it is has been preparing to begin marketing the oral herpes device pursuant to the exclusive worldwide distribution rights it acquired from NeuroMed (Vancouver, British Columbia). Biofield said it expects to begin marketing the device through a wholly owned Indian subsidiary, via direct web-based/Internet marketing, retail, wholesale and through physicians and hospitals within the next 30 days.

Nanogen (San Diego), a developer of molecular and rapid diagnostic products, reported that it has signed a licensing and supply agreement with Scandinavian Gene Synthesis (SGS; Koping, Sweden) for use of the company's proprietary MGB Probe technology and synthetic nucleic acid chemistries including dyes and quenchers for use in human in vitro diagnostic testing.

Under the licensing agreement, SGS will have rights to use its cGMP manufacturing capabilities to make and sell molecular diagnostic products incorporating the Nanogen molecular technology. Terms of the agreement include an upfront license fee and the commitment for Nanogen to supply component products for use by SGS in the design and manufacture of custom DNA oligonucleotides for the molecular IVD industry.

"The market for molecular diagnostics is growing at more than 20% per year," said David Ludvigson, Nanogen's president/COO. "We believe that making our MGB technology widely available as the components of choice for PCR based diagnostics will help to grow the market; and enabling quality cGMP manufacturers like SGS to supply the market is part of our business strategy."

In other dealmaking news:

Health Discovery Corp. (HDC; Savannah, Georgia) reported that it has entered into an agreement with Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, Illinois) to commercialize HDC's new molecular diagnostics gene-based tests for clinically significant prostate cancer. Abbott has acquired co-exclusive clinical laboratory rights and exclusive in vitro diagnostic rights for commercialization of HDC's tissue-based prostate cancer test as well as HDC's urine-based prostate cancer test.

"We are very pleased to partner with Abbott on commercialization of these exciting new molecular diagnostic tests for prostate cancer," said Stephen Barnhill, MD, chairman/CEO of HDC.

HDC also reported that it has licensed rights to develop a new urine-based test for clinically significant prostate cancer to Quest Diagnostics (Madison, New Jersey), a provider of diagnostic testing, information and services. Under the terms of the agreement, HDC will receive payments, royalties and additional undisclosed financial considerations.

"Quest Diagnostics performs testing for more than half a million patients each day, serving approximately half of the physicians and hospitals in the United States. It is an ideal clinical laboratory to use our markers for developing a test as an aid in detecting prostate cancer," said Barnhill

HDC is involved in SVM-based molecular diagnostic and prognostic test development in genomics and proteomics, as well as, digital image analysis in pathology and radiology.

Tenet Healthcare (Dallas) reported that two of its subsidiaries have signed a definitive agreement to sell USC University Hospital and USC Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital to the University of Southern California (all Los Angeles).

The transaction is expected to generate cash proceeds of $275 million from the sale of property and equipment. From these proceeds, $30 million will be deferred and placed in an escrow account for up to four years. In addition, Tenet's subsidiaries will retain substantially all of the hospitals' working capital, which is expected to result in about $35 million of incremental cash proceeds. Tenet said it expects to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes.

USC has committed to offer employment to all or substantially all current employees who are in good standing. The transaction is subject to conditions and regulatory approvals that must be satisfied prior to closing. The closing, which is not conditional on financing, is targeted for completion by March 31. As part of the transaction, Tenet and USC will drop all litigation pending between them.

Tenet said it expects to record an impairment charge of about $40 million, pre-tax and after-tax, in discontinued operations in 4Q08 related to the sale.

Tenet owns and operates acute-care hospitals and related ancillary healthcare businesses, which include ambulatory surgery centers and diagnostic imaging centers.