A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Digene (Gaithersburg, Maryland) will continue to supply Quest Diagnostics’ (Lyndhurst, New Jersey) network of labs in the U.S. with instrumentation and reagents for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing for the next four years under a recently executed agreement, the company said. The new agreement extends the companies’ previous three-year contract. Digene manufactures and markets the Digene HPV test, the only FDA-approved test for high-risk types of the virus, and the Rapid Capture system, an automated, high-throughput instrument on which the HPV test and other assays can be performed. HPV is the cause of essentially all cervical cancer, which is one of the most common malignancies affecting women worldwide.

Quest Diagnostics is a provider of diagnostic testing, information and services, and Digene’s largest HPV testing customer. Quest Diagnostics will continue its efforts with Digene to educate and promote HPV screening along with the Pap test to its customer base of hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers.

“This long-term agreement reflects Digene’s commitment to offer its lab customers, and the clinicians and patients they serve, the highest standard of care in cervical cancer screening,” said Douglas White, Digene’s senior VP of sales and marketing — Americas and Asia Pacific. “Digene and Quest Diagnostics will continue to work together to sponsor and support ongoing education to physicians and their patients about the clinical value of using HPV testing as part of their cervical cancer screening practices.”

The Digene HPV test detects the recognized cause of cervical cancer — HPV. In the U.S., the Digene HPV Test is FDA-approved for use with a Pap test in women age 30 and older as a primary screening method for cervical cancer. While the Pap test relies on a laboratory technician to manually look for cell changes that may signal cervical disease, the Digene HPV test uses advanced molecular technology to identify the presence of the genetic code (DNA) of 13 high-risk types of HPV. Using the Digene HPV Test in combination with the Pap test maximizes the likelihood that high-grade cervical disease and cancer will be detected early, according to the company.

In other contract news:

• Cardiac Science (Bothell, Washington) reported that San Diego Project Heart Beat, San Diego County’s public access defibrillation (PAD) program, has again selected Cardiac Science as its preferred provider of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). Cardiac Science will continue to provide Powerheart AEDs to San Diego Project Heart Beat participants until 2011.

Since its inception in November 2001, San Diego Project Heart Beat has helped agencies, businesses and organizations across San Diego County deploy more than 3,400 Powerheart AEDs in public places. In that time, these publicly accessible defibrillators have been used to save 43 lives. San Diego Project Heart Beat aims to increase the survivability of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) throughout San Diego County by making AEDs as common as fire extinguishers in city and county buildings, tourist destinations, schools, businesses, and any public place in which a life can be saved. According to San Diego Project Heart Beat Officials, since businesses, schools, government buildings, and other public places in San Diego have enrolled with Project Heart Beat and deployed AEDs, more than 75% of victims who suffered SCA in San Diego County, outside of a hospital, when an AED was present, have survived. That is up from 5% — the national average — prior to the start of the PAD program. San Diego Project Heart Beat believes these to be among the highest SCA survival rates for any major city in the country.

Cardiac Science has been providing AEDs to San Diego Project Heart Beat participants under a five-year contract that began with the program’s inception. Following the anticipated expiration of this contract, San Diego County invited Cardiac Science and the other major AED manufacturers to enter into a competitive bidding process to determine the optimal AED partner for the City and Project Heart Beat program for another five year term.

Cardiac Science develops diagnostic and therapeutic cardiology products and services.

• Acacia Research Corporation (Newport Beach, California) reported that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a one-year, $2.2 million contract to one of its operating groups CombiMatrix (Mukilteo, Washington) for further development of its microarray technologies for a multipathogen- and chemical-detection system.

Under previously funded programs with the DoD, CombiMatrix said it has demonstrated that its products can simultaneously detect toxins, viruses, and bacteria using its semiconductor-based microarrays. Unique to this platform is its “on chip” electrochemical detection process, which eliminates the need for complex, expensive, and less-portable optical instrumentation. These systems are currently in use at several military and government laboratories as well as civilian installations.

“The events in the UK, in June, underscore the need for better technologies and products to address the constant threat of terrorist activities. Although the terrorist activity utilized explosives, the threat of chemical or biological weapons persists,” said Dr. David Danley, Director of Homeland Security and Defense Programs at CombiMatrix. “Our products are being designed to address biothreat agents as well as infectious diseases of public-health concern, including influenza A and the ‘Bird flu’ subtype along with other upper-respiratory infections.”