A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

TechniScan Medical Systems (TMS; Salt Lake City) reported the continuation of its $2.8 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Phase II monies for the 12 months beginning April 2007 have been awarded in the amount of $1.66 million. TMS also will receive about $1 million in Phase III in 2008, bringing the total grant to $2.8 million.

Phase I goals, including the design of technical improvements to TechniScan's prototype UltraSound CT Imaging System, were completed earlier this year, the company said. Phase II involves production of two systems modeled on the improved USCT Imaging prototype. These machines will be used in Phase III for investigational testing of patients at the University of California San Diego and at the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota).

"Phase III funds will pay for a significant portion of the preclinical work at these facilities that we anticipate beginning in early 2008," noted TMS CEO David Robinson. The clinical testing will allow TMS to collect data on subjects with both normal breast anatomy, as well as on patients with clinical findings, and utilize the information to support regulatory efforts by TMS.

Techniscan develops ultrasound technology for breast imaging.

In other grant news:

  • The Department of Defense has awarded a $1.6 million grant to The Center for Bioelectronics Biosensors and Biochips at Clemson University (Clemson, South Carolina) for a joint study on an implantable biochip that could transmit medical data with the department of molecular pathology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Telesensors, (Knoxville, Tennessee).

The biochip, about the size of a grain of rice, would be able to almost immediately relay patient information, such as glucose levels in the event of a major hemorrhage. It could be injected into a wounded patient after an incident or for other long-term applications, such as monitoring astronauts' vital signs during space flights and reading blood-sugar levels for diabetics.

Clemson researchers say they have developed gel that mimics human tissue and is used when injecting the chip to reduce the chance of a patient's body rejecting it. The biochip is five years away from human trials, researchers say.

  • Nanomix (Emeryville, California) a nanoelectronic company commercializing diagnostic and monitoring applications, reported an increase in the previous award of a $1 million project grant from the Department of Homeland Security, adding $260,000 to the second year of the grant, for a total of $1.26 million.

The Nanomix grant covers a three year period and will be developed in cooperation with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. The company said it is not disclosing the project "for security reasons."

The Nanomix Sensation platform enables detection of an array of chemical and biomolecules. It has high specificity and reproducibility, operates at room temperature, consumes little power, and permits both wireless integration and simple deployment.

  • Aethlon Medical (San Diego) said it has submitted a Phase I SBIR grant to the NIH, titled "Affinity Capture of Low Abundance Prostate Cancer Biomarkers From Sera." The submission proposes to investigate the utility of the Aethlon Hemopurifier to rapidly isolate and identify prostate cancer biomarkers from the blood.

The grant proposes use of the Aethlon Hemopurifier® for the rapid isolation, concentration, identification, and characterization of circulating cancer biomarkers.

The rapid identification of novel serum biomarkers is essential for the identification and management of prostate cancer. Prostate tumor cells release an array of macromolecules and vesicular components into surrounding body fluids. These include proteins, glycoproteins, glycolipids, and subcellular vesicles.

Aethlon proposes to investigate the utility of the Hemopurifier® to concentrate and identify the prostate tumor biomarkers prostate specific antigen (PSA), Cathepsin D, and human kallikrein 2 (hK2), and alpha-methylacyl coenzyme A racemase (AMACR). Use of the Hemopurifier would allow for the identification of circulating biomarkers from a patient's circulatory system, thus increasing test sensitivity and allowing for the identification of previously undetected prostate cancer biomarkers.