A Medical Device Daily

A biomedical engineering assistant professor at the University of Texas (Austin) has been awarded a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute grant to conduct nanoparticle cancer research.

Grant recipient James Tunnell said the five-year project will include collaboration with other researchers from the university, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston) and the University of California (UC; Irvine).

The project will focus on the development of molecular imaging technologies for the screening, diagnosis and therapy of cancer. Recent advancements in nanotechnologies have produced a class of optically active metal particles with highly desirable molecular and optical properties suitable for detection and treatment.

"We will design nanoparticles that can be injected into the bloodstream where they will seek out and attach themselves to cancer cells within the body," Tunnell says. "In this case, the particles themselves are identifying the cancer cells, and we can then image the nanoparticles in order to find the cancer."

Using weak levels of light, the particles act as imaging agents making it possible to locate cancer cells. Then, higher light levels can be used to heat the same particles, killing the cancer cells while leaving nearby healthy cells unharmed.

"Our goal is to detect and treat cancer at the cellular level and at its earliest stage when survival rates are highest," Tunnell says.

The collaborators on the project include the university's Brian Korgel, chemical engineering professor, and Pengyu Ren, biomedical engineering assistant professor; M.D. Anderson's Sunil Krishnan and UC's Anthony Durkin and David Cuccia.

In other grants and contracts news:

• Diagnostic Hybrids (Athens, Ohio) has received funding through the Biomedical Research Commercialization Program (BRCP; Columbus, Ohio) to develop more sensitive and affordable assays for the monitoring of patients infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and to produce vaccines against influenza virus. The BRCP is part of the Third Frontier Project, a push by Ohio lawmakers to bring biotechnology and related businesses into the state of Ohio.

The project and award bring together researchers to commercialize systems that monitor drug resistance in HIV, HCV, and Influenza infections and will aid in developing treatments and vaccines for these diseases.

The researchers are using a yeast-based cloning technology first developed at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland) to investigate drug resistance and vaccine development for HIV, HCV, and influenza.

• Millar Instruments (Houston), developer and manufacturer of Mikro-Tip pressure transducer catheters and pressure-volume systems and Telemetry Research (Auckland, New Zealand) reported that they entered into a worldwide distribution agreement.

Telemetry Research provides wireless measurement of blood pressure, neural and other biopotential signals from rats and larger animals. The inductively powered implanted sensors and digital communication techniques provide significant benefits to the researcher such as lowering total cost of telemetry and enabling new research methodologies.

"As the gold standard in high fidelity pressure measurements, Millar Instruments is pleased to recommend and support the sale of Telemetry Research's products to its established customer base in universities, research hospitals and pharma/biotech companies worldwide. We are impressed with the advantages that this technology provides to the researcher and what Telemetry Research has accomplished," said Tim Daugherty, director, Cardiology Products at Millar Instruments.

• GE Healthcare (Chalfont St. Giles, England) is working with medical leaders in the Olympic Movement to advance the use of medical imaging technologies to provide insight into athlete health, as well as benefits for the general public. The company will supply a broad array of medical technologies, including MRI, ultrasound and ECG to the Olympic Village General Hospital. In addition, three National Olympic Committees, including China, U.S. and Spain, and two Sports Federations will use GE Healthcare's compact ultrasound technology.

• Premier Purchasing Partners (Charlotte, North Carolina) reported a new portfolio of agreements for advanced wound care with 3M (St. Paul, Minnesota); ConvaTec (Skillman, New Jersey); Covidien (Mansfield, Massachusetts); Ferris Manufacturing (Burr Ridge, Illinois); Hollister (Libertyville, Illinois); Medline Industries (Mundelein, Illinois); M lnlycke Health Care (Norcross, Georgia) and Smith & Nephew (Largo, Florida).

The 36-month agreements, available to both acute-care and continuum-of-care markets, were effective May 1, 2008.

• Novo Innovations (Alpharetta, Georgia) said an agreement with Palomar Pomerado Health (PPH; San Diego) will involve the deployment of Novo's agent-based software, which will allow PPH to improve information exchange with their physician practices to lower costs and improve clinical care.

The Novo system satisfied a key PPH requirement through its capacity to improve information exchange with the widest number of physician-practice EMRs throughout the community.

• Burgess (Alexandria, Virginia), a Medicare-based data and information technology solutions firm, reported it signed a three-year contract with Regence (Portland, Oregon), which will be a licensed user of Burgess Reimbursement System (BRS) which includes BRS AutoPricer, enabling them to automatically price claims in line with their existing adjudication process through a direct connection to their existing claims system.

Small Interfering Ribonucleic Acid (siRNA) facility at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston) has been charged with providing high-quality siRNA screening services for both internal and external customers.

M.D. Anderson has chosen Stone Bond Technologies' EE-LIMS to document activities within the laboratory workflow at its siRNA facility, increasing throughput, while reducing the risk of errors, and providing automation for the management of operations in its siRNA Laboratory.

As one of the newest fields in the study of nucleic acids, small interfering RNA has shown considerable potential in laboratory studies to change how diseases are treated.