A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Immunetics (Boston) has received two new grants totaling $1.2 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) Advanced Technology program. The grants will support development of tests for antibiotic resistance in bacteria and for the parasitic agent of Chagas' disease, both emerging public health threats.

With the spread of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, including MRSA as an example currently receiving much attention, serious infections have become more challenging for hospitals to treat and to control.

The test under development by Immunetics will provide faster results than are available using current methods, as it is based on genetic information and does not require culturing bacteria for one or more days. Immunetics will be collaborating with Tufts Medical Center (Boston) and a Miami medical center under the new grant, which follows a previous $1.5 million grant supporting development of the bacterial test.

A second grant will support development of a confirmatory test for Chagas' disease, a parasitic infection which can be transmitted during blood transfusions. With the discovery of Chagas' disease cases in the U.S. resulting from transfusion with infected blood, organizations such as the American Red Cross (Washington) and other blood centers have begun to screen blood donations for antibodies to the parasite.

However, confirming a positive screening result requires a lengthy and complex follow-on test. Immunetics will develop a simpler and more rapid confirmatory test which can be carried out by any clinical or blood bank laboratory.

Immunetics develops assay technology for infectious disease diagnosis and pathogen detection, and says it has been an innovator of tests for bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases for more than 10 years.

In other grants/contracts news:

• Cantimer (Menlo Park, California) reported that it has been awarded a $996,000 contract by the U.S. government's Technical Support Working Group to develop a portable, real-time and non-invasive hydration measurement and monitoring device for use by firefighters and other first-responder personnel.

The United States Fire Administration (part of FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency) estimates that more than half of firefighter line-of-duty deaths result from cardiovascular events or heat illnesses.

Ensuring adequate pre-response hydration and on-scene re-hydration is an increasing area of focus for occupational medicine experts focused on the health, safety and performance of firefighters. Non-quantitative or observational hydration assessment techniques may not consistently ensure that all dehydrated and at-risk individuals are identified and get proper medical attention. Cantimer's quantitative approach is based on assessing the composition of a small sample of saliva, with a portable, hand-held device.

Cantimer is a privately held, development-stage company commercializing a patented, proprietary sensor technology platform with applications in life science, biodefense, environmental testing, point-of-care diagnostics and home health markets.

• Impulse Monitoring (IMI; Columbia Maryland), a provider of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) services to hospitals, reported that it has signed a three-year agreement with the University of Virginia Health System (UVAHS; Charlottesville).

Which includes two one-year extension options, IMI will provide UVAHS with comprehensive IONM services including IMI-qualified neurophysiologists and real-time professional oversight by an experienced physician. IONM assesses neurological function involving the brain, spinal cord and related nerve structures during surgery. Use of IONM facilitates the surgical process and can reduce surgical risk by providing alerts to surgeons of potential harm to the spinal cord or neural structures.

Impulse Monitoring provides intraoperative neuromonitoring services to hospitals and other facilities for spinal, nerve and brain-related surgeries.