A Medical Device Daily

Canadian researchers have reported that a new red blood cell substitute from Hemosol (Toronto) improved the survival of mice with sickle cell disease that were subjected to conditions to simulate a sickle cell crisis.

The new product candidate, HRC 101, is a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier that improved survival in mice genetically modified to have a condition similar to sickle cell disease, according to an article in the journal Anesthesiology. Reducing levels of oxygen simulated a sickle cell crisis in the animals.

Mark Crawford, MD, and colleagues at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto noted in the article that there are risks associated with the use of red blood cell transfusions to treat children during a sickle cell crisis.

Sickle cell disease, also called sickle cell anemia, is an inherited condition in which the body produces red blood cells that have a "sickled" shape, rather than a normal oval appearance. Because these sickle cells are not efficient, patients become anemic and the cells periodically obstruct blood flow, especially reducing flow to major organs and other parts of the body, depriving them of oxygen and causing a sickle cell crisis.

To investigate the protective effect of HRC 101 in such circumstances, the researchers administered 0.02 mL/g of the agent or placebo to regular mice and sickle cell mice.

The results, they said, show that HRC 101 "protects sickle mice from the lethal effects of acute, severe" oxygen deprivation. Further studies are needed to define the mechanisms responsible for that effect, the team said.

Coherent-AMT to distribute Viking's system

Viking Systems (San Diego), a manufacturer of high-performance laparoscopic vision systems for use in minimally invasive surgical (MIS) procedures, reported signing an exclusive distribution agreement with Coherent-AMT (Cambridge, Ontario) to market Viking's 3Di Vision Systems throughout Canada.

Joseph Arango, VP medical for Coherent-AMT, said, "Viking's technology leap in 3D surgical visualization technology will enhance patient outcomes with increased patient comfort. This technology has already been adopted by over 100 hospitals globally and is continuing to gain momentum."

He said the addition of 3Di systems to the company's surgical product portfolio will allow Coherent-AMT to support "an increased interest in 3-D technology for minimally invasive surgery and will enable surgery centers and hospitals to offer leading-edge technologies to their communities."

"Complex MIS is growing rapidly in the Canadian market, and our partnership with Coherent-AMT will accelerate the associated benefits by providing natural 3-D vision to the surgical team," said Stephen Heniges, Viking's senior VP, global marketing and clinical development. "We consider this partnership the perfect vehicle for our proprietary vision technology and expect rapid acceptance and growth in the Canadian marketplace."

Study on reducing lab animal use wins award

Australian scientists who developed a research method which reduces the use of animals in the laboratory have been awarded this year's Voiceless Eureka Prize.

Associate Professor Maria Kavallaris and colleagues at Children's Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research (Sydney) and the University of New South Wales developed a method for accurately identifying mechanisms of drug resistance in cancer cells without the need for animal models.

The organization making the award said that the research provides scientists with a renewable and expandable experimental resource for research into the identification of drug resistance mechanisms which may lead to greatly improved cancer treatments.

The importance of the approach is highlighted by its ability to reduce the use of animal models in oncology research, setting a new benchmark for molecular biology applications in the determination of in vivo drug resistance.

Kavallaris and her team dissected protein pathways involved in the response to chemotherapy, which led to the identification of a new protein shown to be involved in drug resistance in leukemia.

"The technique we have developed," Kavallaris said, "allows us to directly observe and determine the cause of drug resistance at the cellular level so we can minimize the use of animals to find the answers we are searching for."

MSI signs U.S. firm to aid with approvals

Medical Services International (MSI; Edmonton, Alberta) said it has signed an agreement with a U.S. biotech firm to help the Canadian firm get two of its tests approved by the FDA.

As part of the agreement, the company - which was not named - will be responsible for the completion of all necessary U.S. testing that hasn't yet been completed, plus the filing of documents necessary to get the VScan TB and VScan Hepatitis C tests approved for use in the U.S.

MSI said the U.S. firm will be responsible for obtaining regulatory approval, marketing and distribution of the two VScan test kits. It said that company's marketing program indicates that it will sell in excess of 3.5 million kits over a two-year period following regulatory okay.

The U.S. company also received an option to obtain regulatory approval and market other VScan products in the U.S.

MSI's VScan rapid test kits are single-use, easy-to-use test for the screening of HIV 1&2, hepatitis B & C, tuberculosis, Dengue fever, malaria, West Nile virus, syphilis and prostate cancer.

Elbit's notes set for Tel Aviv exchange

Elbit Medical Imaging (EMI; Tel Aviv, Israel) has published a prospectus in Israel for the listing of the company's outstanding Series D notes on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

The notes, in an aggregate principal amount of about NIS 620 million, were issued by EMI in several private placements earlier this year to Israeli investors.

The publication of the prospectus followed the approval by the Israel Securities Authority and by the TASE. The listing for trade of the notes on the TASE is expected to occur this week.

InSightec, an EMI subsidiary, is involved in the development of MRI-guided focused ultrasound equipment.

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