A Medical Device Daily

Fairway Medical Technologies (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, Fairway Medical Technologies 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:

• Aetna (Hartford, Connecticut) reported that it has reached agreement with the Central Florida Health Alliance (Orlando) on a three-year contract that adds Leesburg Regional Medical Center (Leesburg, Florida) and The Villages Regional Hospital (Villages, Florida) to Aetna's provider network in the Central Florida area. The agreement takes effect Sept. 15.

Under the agreement, members of Aetna network-based plans will be able to receive covered inpatient and outpatient services, at in-network rates, from Leesburg Regional Medical Center and The Villages Regional Hospital.

Aetna provides and administers health benefits to more than 225,000 members in Central Florida. Those members have access to a contracted network of 35 hospitals, 1,626 primary care physicians and 4,434 specialists.

The Villages Regional Hospital, part of Central Florida Health Alliance, is a 198-bed, acute-care hospital located in the heart of The Villages, a nationally-known adult community. The facility serves the tri county area Lake, Sumter and south Marion counties.

Leesburg Regional Medical Center, also part of Central Florida Health Alliance, is a 309-bed, acute-care hospital with specialty services including comprehensive cardiovascular, neurosurgery, and the only designated stroke center with the Joint Commission Seal of Approval in Lake and Sumter counties.

• NxStage Medical (Lawrence, Massachusetts), a manufacturer of dialysis products, reported that it has signed a one-year extension of its existing agreement with DaVita (El Sugundo, California) to supply blood tubing sets to DaVita centers.

NxStage Medical is developing products for the treatment of ESRD and acute kidney failure.

• Premier Purchasing Partners (San Diego) reported new agreements for blood gas analyzers, reagents, consumables and service have been awarded to Instrumentation Laboratory (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.