A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

China Medical Technologies (Beijing), a manufacturer of ultrasound products and in vitro diagnostic systems, reported that it will buy the fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) businesses of Supreme Well Investments and Molecular Diagnostics Technologies, which are British Virgin Islands-incorporated entities with operations in the U.S., Hong Kong and China for $136.8 million, with up to another $40 million if certain milestones are met.

FISH is a type of hybridization in which a DNA probe is labeled with fluorescent dye so that it can be seen with a microscope.

China Medical said it intends to develop the FISH technology in China for the diagnosis of prenatal and postnatal disorders as well as various cancers through laboratory evaluation and analysis of bodily fluids and tissues.

Of the initial $136.8 million payment, $20 million will be held back by the company for a period to satisfy any possible claims that could arise if the sellers breach their obligations under the acquisition agreement. The company expects to close the transaction in March.

Feng Zhu, VP of China Medical, in a conference call said that FISH is used in many countries for diagnostic testing but is not yet widely deployed in China. He noted that it is commonly used for prenatal and postnatal diagnosis of genetic-based diseases, detection of the HER-2/neu gene in selecting the proper treatment therapy for breast cancer patients and the initial diagnosis and subsequent monitoring of the progression of bladder cancer.

“The Chinese government is naturally looking to introduce new, effective and affordable technologies, in particular in the field of diagnostics to address the medical needs of the general population,” said Zhu. “We believe this a significant market opportunity for China Medical.”

China Medical said it intends to use the FISH technology to develop and manufacture FISH products, including both FISH probes and a special microscope system used to visualize FISH probes.

Zhu said the FISH products will be focused initially on the prenatal diagnosis of congenital disorders. According to statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Health, there are more than 16 million newborn infants each year in China, and about one million new babies are born with congenital disorders.

Zhu said he believes that this creates a significant need for an accurate and quick diagnostic system to test pregnant women in China, “particularly in light of China’s one family, one child policy.”

“With FISH, we believe we will be well positioned to conduct prenatal testing of pregnant women in China with a leading technology that can return results in less than 24 hours as compared to the up to four weeks needed for karyotyping, the most comparable alternative [currently used in China],” said Xiaodong Wu, CEO and chairman of the company. “This technology should also enable accurate diagnosis of some of the most significant disorders at a competitive cost.”

The company said it also intends to apply the FISH technology to other diagnostic uses, including the diagnosis of cervical, breast, bladder and other major cancers.

“Acquiring the FISH technology will further strengthen our leading position in diagnostic testing in China by adding a portfolio of proprietary tests for the detection of chromosomal and gene abnormalities. With the addition of FISH technology, we believe we will be able to effectively develop specialized testing products with high specificity and sensitivity using molecular diagnostics. We expect this to complement our existing broader diagnostic tests that use ECLIA technology.”

Credit Suisse Securities acted as financial advisor and Morrison & Foerster acted as legal counsel to China Medical.

eGene in bird flu pact with Singapore firm

eGene (Irvine, California), developer of genetic analysis technology, said it plans to launch a “complete solution for fast and low-cost bird flu screening” by entering into a distribution agreement with Veredus Laboratories (Singapore) for the AIV-H5N1 PCR Kit using eGene’s HDA-GT12 System.

Ming Liu, CEO of eGene, said, “We are entering an agreement with Veredus Labs to apply its AIV-H5N1 PCR kit with our HDA-GT12 system. Our previous testing results indicated that the HDA system, in combination with this single-step RT-PCR assay, is a simple and sensitive assay for H5N1 avian influenza detection that can detect as few as 10 copies of the viral RNA.”

Liu said a total of 96 samples can be analyzed in less than 50 minutes. “Initially, we believe a fast, sensitive and low-cost analysis to identify the contamination of the viral RNA in the poultry market can be one of the key factors to prevent the mass spread of the virus.”

Veredus Laboratories is a molecular diagnostics company engaged in the development, commercialization and manufacturing of diagnostic assays for diseases. The company’s focus is to aid patients via faster, more precise and better diagnostics to enable pathogen-specific treatment of infectious diseases at the earliest detectable stage.

eGene developed the HDA-GT12, a high-performance DNA analyzer for genotyping on 12 channels. The system analyzes the genetic fingerprints of living organisms, performing fast DNA sample screening and high-resolution DNA fragment analysis.

The system also analyzes the quality and quantity of RNA in gene expression market.

Viking adds distributor in Caribbean

Viking Systems (San Diego), a manufacturer of high-performance laparoscopic vision systems for use in minimally invasive surgical (MIS) procedures, has expanded its global distribution network by adding a new partner, Universal Care Corp. (Unicare), for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic and the eastern Caribbean, including Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados

Fernando Ledesma, president of Unicare, said, “In addition to the restoration of depth perception, our surgeons are attracted by the comfort of the head-mounted displays versus the strain of viewing a distant monitor especially during longer procedures.” He said the use of minimally invasive techniques is growing rapidly growing in the area his company serves, adding: “We believe Viking’s 3Di Digital Vision System will become the standard for minimally invasive surgery in the future.”

Donald Tucker, Viking president/CEO, said, “We are particularly interested in this geography because of the high growth rate of minimally invasive surgery. Unicare, with its longstanding high-quality representation, is an ideal partner through which [we] can provide our 3-D vision systems to hospitals to address this growth.”