A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

American Bio Medica (AMBC; Kinderhook, New York) said that its distributor in the Dominican Republic, Vanter (Santo Domingo), has signed an exclusive contract with the National Network of Transportation to provide drug-testing services for all dock personnel and all drivers delivering and receiving at the country's three major ports, Puerto Caucedo de Boca Chica, Puerto Haina and Puerto de Puerto Plata.

The first 15,000 tests will be shipped in May, and it is expected that a minimum of about 40,000 tests will be required each year, according to AMBC.

According to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released by the U.S. Department of State in March, the Dominican Republic is a major transit country for cocaine and heroin from South America destined for U.S. and European markets. During 2007, the country experienced an increase in air smuggling of cocaine while maritime deliveries via go-fast boats and cargo containers continued.

AMBC develops immunoassay diagnostic test kits, including tests for drugs of abuse.

In grants news: Washington's Life Sciences Discovery Fund (Seattle) has awarded $2.2 million to establish a formal Phase I clinical trials program to test new therapies for solid tumors at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle).

The grant is among the first funded by the state's $350 million tobacco-lawsuit-settlement bonus. Developing novel therapies targeted to treat solid tumors, in collaboration with local biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, is the goal of the Hutchinson Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium.

Traditionally, Phase I studies have been primarily concerned with drug safety. However, with the increased knowledge of the molecular pathways involved in cancer development, an ever-increasing proportion of drugs initially tested in humans prove to be effective, even in the first patients treated.