A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Fairway Medical Technologies (FMT; Houston) has received a $900,000, three-year contract from the Department of the Navy to apply its optoacoustic technology to the real-time detection of blood borne pathogens and biological warfare agents under battlefield conditions. This grant is part of a larger, $3 million project led by Randolph Glickman, principal pnvestigator from the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC; San Antonio).

The grant, titled "Rapid identification of pathogenic agents in biological samples using pulsed laser optoacoustic spectroscopy with targeted nanoparticle contrast agents," will be carried out as a collaborative project between UTHSC, FMT and the Naval Health Research Center Detachment Directed Energy Bioeffects Laboratory at Brooks City-Base in Texas.

"This research is intended to develop a rugged battlefield instrument capable of detecting biological agents such as anthrax, plague, smallpox, and others with the speed, accuracy, sensitivity and reliability of analytical techniques and instruments found in the state-of-the-art laboratory today," said Glickman.

The optoacoustic biosensor tests samples of blood plasma or other liquids by using monoclonal antibodies (MAB) targeted to specific pathogens. "Elongated gold nanoparticles designed to strongly absorb near-infrared laser pulses can be conjugated to each type of MAB to create a specificity mechanism that will signal the presence of targeted pathogens," said Alexander Oraevsky, VP of research and development at Fairway and an inventor of this nano-biosensor. "When the nanoparticles produce an acoustic response to laser pulses, the presence and concentration of the pathogens is established."

Unique ultrawide-band transducers developed by Fairway for medical imaging and other analytical optoacoustic systems fit the signal acquisition needs of this application, he added.

Fairway makes products based on proprietary or licensed technologies, and provides contract development and manufacturing services for outside clients.

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Alpha Innotech (San Leandro, California) reported that it has entered into a five-year strategic supplier alliance agreement with GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin), a continuation and expansion of the previous agreement signed between the two companies in 2005.

Under terms of the agreement, Alpha Innotech will continue to develop, manufacture and supply a full line of imaging systems to GE Healthcare to be sold exclusively worldwide under the GE brand in the life science research and drug discovery markets.

"Over the past three years we have built a very strong relationship with GE Healthcare and are pleased to extend our partnership in commercializing life sciences imaging systems," said Sia Ghazvini, VP for marketing and business development at Alpha Innotech.

"We are happy to extend our partnership with Alpha Innotech and to work closely with them providing leading edge scientific imaging systems and developing next generation products. Our partnership with Alpha Innotech expands our imaging portfolio and provides researchers with a broad choice of imaging modalities," said Ron Alves, purchase family leader, GE Healthcare.

• Aspyra (Calabasas, California) has entered into an agreement with Data Strategies (DSI; Poway, California) allowing Aspyra to represent Data Strategies' elligence billing product line nationally to new and existing Aspyra customers. Data Strategies develops, manufactures and distributes products for healthcare practice management – much of the same audience for Aspyra's clinical and diagnostic product solutions.

The non-exclusive national agreement became effective July 18 and is specific to Data Strategies elligence Healthcare Practice Management Billing software and all of its integrated modules and components.

• Interleukin Genetics (Waltham, Massachusetts) and Access Business Group International (ABGI) a division of Alticor (Ada, Michigan) have reached an agreement that will increase access to all intellectual property related to genetic tests jointly developed by Interleukin Genetics and Access Business Group under their research agreements. In turn, this will permit the expansion of Interleukin Genetics' distribution network for such genetic tests. Under the agreement, ABGI's existing license to Interleukin's intellectual property will become non-exclusive.

Interleukin will have the right to brand, market, sell and distribute all genetic tests developed using its existing and future intellectual property, either itself or through additional third party licensees. ABGI will continue to distribute the Heart Health and General Nutrition genetic tests under the Gensona brand name. The agreement will continue to allow Interleukin Genetics to have exclusive ownership of all inventions relating to genetic tests arising from research programs between the companies.

Interleukin is a genetics-focused personalized health company that develops preventive consumer products and genetic tests for sale to the emerging personalized health market.

• Asuragen (Austin, Texas) reported that it has granted Focus Diagnostics (Cypress, California) non-exclusive worldwide rights to incorporate Armored RNA technology into its in vitro molecular diagnostics products.

The Armored RNA technology encapsulates RNA standards in a protective protein coat, assuring their integrity during long-term storage. It also "armors" the RNA standard against the hazards of nucleases in patient samples. RNA standards are essential to quantitative molecular diagnostic assays, and maintaining their integrity is crucial to obtaining accurate, reliable results.

• CompuMed (Los Angeles) said it has signed a new and exclusive agreement with Any Lab Test Now (Alpharetta, Georgia), a franchise direct-access lab testing facility with more than 70 locations, and will provide remote electrocardiogram (ECG) interpretation systems and services at selected facilities nationwide.

CompuMed's traditional core business is providing remote ECG interpretation terminals and related services to medical facilities that may not have access to physicians trained and qualified to interpret ECG results. Traditional customers for the company's CardioGram system include correctional facilities, ambulatory surgery centers, occupational health clinics and physicians' offices.

• Premier Purchasing Partners (San Diego) reported new agreements for blood gas analyzers, reagents, consumables and service have been awarded to Instrumentation Laboratory (IL; Lexington, Massachusetts) and Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics (Deerfield, Illinois).

Premier also reported new agreements for molecular analyzers, reagents, consumables and service have been awarded to Roche Diagnostics (Indianapolis) and Siemens.

The 36-month agreements, effective Oct. 1, are available to acute and continuum of care members of the Premier healthcare alliance.