A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

GE Global Research, the technology development arm for the General Electric Company (Niskayuna, New York), reported signing a two-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to accelerate development of nanoparticle-based imaging agents that have the potential to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and heart disease.

Researchers in GE's Nanotechnology Lab have developed nanoparticle-based imaging agents that could increase imaging resolution and sensitivity. The ability to see and target disease with higher resolution and sensitivity could promote the detection of cancer and cardiac disease at much earlier stages. These agents could also be used to more rapidly and accurately monitor the effectiveness of treatments.

NCI's Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL), operated by contractor SAIC-Frederick (San Diego), will apply its nanotechnology characterization tools to evaluate the safety and feasibility of GE's nanoparticle diagnostic imaging agents.

"The backbone of GE's Early Health vision is to see, diagnose and treat disease at its earliest stages, so that we can improve patient outcomes," said Amit Kulkarni, manager, Chemical Nanotechnology Lab, GE Global Research. "GE's nanoparticle based imaging agents have the potential to be huge enablers of a new medical imaging paradigm, not only in the treatment of cancer but also cardiac disease, by allowing clinicians to see, target and treat disease at much earlier stages than what is possible today."

The NCL is a collaboration of the NCI, the FDA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and is part of the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. The cooperative research and development agreement between GE and NCI is the first under NCI's new Advanced Technology Partnerships Initiative, which seeks to accelerate the delivery of new products to cancer patients.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Osmetech (Pasadena, California) reported that it has signed an agreement with Qiagen (Venlo, the Netherlands) for Osmetech to adapt a QIAplex-based respiratory viral test for use on Osmetech's recently launched eSensor XT-8 molecular diagnostics system.

Qiagen will supply QIAplex-based reagents for the multiplex amplification of the most common viruses associated with respiratory infections. In July 2008, Qiagen launched its QIAplex-based ResPlex II respiratory panel for research use only. Osmetech intends to develop an in-vitro diagnostic test for use on its eSensor XT-8 molecular diagnostic instrument and to submit this test to the FDA for 510(k) clearance.

• Block Imaging International (Lansing, Michigan) reported that it has formed a strategic partnership with Dicom Solutions (Irvine, California) and will now carry a new line of medical imaging digital solutions.

Block will provide its customers with PACS, RIS, DICOM to CD, CR and archive solutions from Dicom.

• Level 3's (Broomfield, Colorado) Business Markets Group said that Bostwick Laboratories (Seattle) has selected Level 3 to provide network connectivity between that company's data center, remote offices, laboratories, and headquarters location. Under the terms of the renewed and expanded multi-year contract, Level 3 will deliver dedicated internet access, Voice over Internet Protocol and enhanced network services to connect locations in Arizona, Florida, New York, Tennessee and Virginia.

• Microchip Biotechnologies (MBI; Dublin, California) has been awarded a $625,000 contract under the inaugural U.S. Army Commercialization Pilot Program for the development of a Universal Sample Preparation Module (USPM). The Commercialization Pilot Program is a new program to assist SBIR firms that have Phase II projects that meet high priority Army requirements in transitioning to commercial products.

MBI's project will develop a Universal Sample Preparation Module that will automatically purify DNA from pathogen targets contained in complex matrices to provide samples for various downstream DoD-sponsored analytical platforms.

The USPM will enable front-end sample preparation with high specificity for rapid detection, identification, and diagnosis of biological threat agents and will be applicable to detecting pathogens for molecular diagnostics. Using MBI's Microscale On-chip Valves technology, the USPM will integrate multiple sample processing steps in a small, universal sample preparation module that integrates immunomagnetic separation capture with lysis and nucleic acid purification.

Microchip Biotechnologies is developing the Apollo next-generation fluidics platform for life sciences, applied sciences and diagnostics markets.