• Elisabeth Hager, chairman and CEO of Balan Biomedical (Rochester, New York) reported that St. Jude Medical (SJM; St. Paul Minnesota) has renewed its contract for a range of engineering services from Balan. Members of Balan's Engineering Division support the internal R & D projects of SJM, allowing optimization of resources while providing cost-effective expertise. Balan is a physician-led search and discovery company specializing in medical and consumer health intelligence.

Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts) said that it has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a full line of the company's pacemakers and defibrillators. The one-year contract took effect in December 2008 and has annual renewal options for up to four years. It includes Boston Scientific's newest technologies in both product categories: the Altrua family of pacemakers and the Teligen implantable cardioverter defibrillator.

Medtronic (Minneapolis) reported that it now owns CryoCath Technologies (Montreal) as a result of a "compulsory acquisition." Medtronic said it acquired the 1,574,488 shares of CryoCath Technologies (Montreal) not already owned by it by exercising its right to compulsorily acquire the shares under Section 51 of the Québec Companies Act. The compulsory acquisition followed an Oct. 3 offer for all of the CryoCath shares for C$8.75 a share, which had been accepted by shareholders holding roughly 96.3% of the CryoCath shares. As a result, CryoCath is now 100% owned by Medtronic. CryoCath develops cryotherapy products to treat cardiac arrythmias. Its flagship product, Arctic Front, is a minimally invasive cryoballoon catheter designed specifically to treat atrial fibrillation. Marketed in Europe and the subject of a pivotal study in the U.S. and Canada, Arctic Front has been used to treat nearly 3,100 patients.

Micell Technologies (Raleigh, North Carolina) said it has entered into a strategic agreement with Maxcor (New York), the newly incorporated subsidiary of Opto Circuits (OCI; Bangalore, India). Micell has obtained the rights to Maxcor's Genius MAGIC Cobalt Chromium Coronary Stent System to develop and market drug-eluting stents (DES) based on Micell's coating technology. The system was developed and is marketed in Europe by EuroCor (Bonn, Germany), another subsidiary of Opto Circuits. The companies also entered into an agreement to develop drug-eluting balloon products for cardiovascular applications. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed. Micell's technology provides for a unique way for the delivery of drugs within bioabsorbable polymers. The company has developed a drug-polymer formulation that can precisely and consistently control drug elution and the duration of polymer exposure. As a result, Micell's coating has the potential to deliver a precise therapeutic solution for coronary artery disease without the long-term safety concerns of currently available drug-eluting stents.

Volcano (San Diego), a maker of products for the diagnosis and treatment of coronary and peripheral artery disease, said that it has closed its previously reported $21.5 million cash acquisition of Axsun Technologies (Boston). Axsun is a developer of lasers and optical engines used in medical Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) imaging systems and advanced photonic components and subsystems used in other industrial applications. Axsun will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Volcano. Volcano said it believes Axsun's OCT technology will accelerate its OCT product development programs and provide the company competitive advantages in the invasive imaging sector. Axsun has development partnerships with companies serving the cardiology and dental markets and said that it expects the launch of the first medical imaging systems using its technology during 1H09. Volcano said it plans to use new integrated versions of Axsun's advanced tunable laser and optical engine technology in the development of new OCT imaging systems.

Zoll Medical (Chelmsford, Massachusetts), a manufacturer of resuscitation devices and related software products, reported that Provena Saint Joseph Hospital (Elgin, Illinois) has implemented the company's AutoPulse Non-Invasive Cardiac Support Pump in the hospital's intensive care and cardiac care units. Zoll noted that the hospital was recently ranked the top hospital in the state of Illinois for cardiac surgery for 2009 by HealthGrades, a U.S. healthcare ratings company. "The AutoPulse is like a member of our code team. It's clinically vital. We've seen blood pressure return to normal in cardiac arrest patients, and we're seeing the best codes on paper that we've ever had," said Wanda Pritts, a critical care specialist. She added that staff is able to deploy the AutoPulse within seven to 10 seconds, that it's easy to use, and has a calming effect among the code team. Plans are to introduce the automatic chest compression device to other departments of the hospital in the future. AutoPulse helps provide the consistent chest compressions called for by the 2005 American Heart Association Guidelines. It is an automated, portable device with an easy-to-use, load-distributing LifeBand that squeezes the entire chest in an uninterrupted "hands-free" manner, improving blood flow to the heart and brain during cardiac arrest. "We're pleased that yet another highly-regarded cardiac center, like Provena Saint Joseph, realizes the value AutoPulse can provide in improving survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest," said Richard Packer, CEO and chairman of Zoll.