A Medical Device Daily

The European Vascular Genomics Network (EVGN), a Network of Excellence funded by the European Union within its 6th Framework Program, launched three platforms in 2006 representing cutting-edge tools in the field of cardiovascular science and aimed at strengthening and improving the research effectiveness of the network.

The platforms presented during the EVGN annual conference, held in Toulouse, France, last month, include:

The Zebrafish platform, named for a versatile model organism in modern molecular biology. The platform intends to provide EVGN scientists with access to the Zebrafish model system for in vivo studies of cardiovascular development and disease. Led by EVGN scientist Marina Mione, the platform is based at the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology (Milan, Italy).

The bioinformatics platform, which will provide EVGN researchers with a comprehensive set of software and web tools for storing, accessing, analyzing and elaborating the huge amount of data that comes from today’s high-throughput technologies — in particular, gene and protein expression data. The platform is managed by Anton Horrevoets of the Academisch Medisch Centrum at the University of Amsterdam.

An innovative proteomics platform to perform advanced studies on structure and function of the proteins involved in the process of formation and development of cardiovascular disease. The platform is managed by Manuel Mayr of the St. George’s Hospital Medical School (London).

The aim of proteomics in this field is to carry out large-scale studies of gene expression at the protein level, providing the basis for a detailed understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms and leading to the discovery of potential targets for drug development.

EVGN Scientific Coordinator Alain Tedgui, of Inserm (Paris), said, “EVGN platforms represent essential tools to our network. These technologies are necessary for today’s research, but they are extremely expensive, and would not be affordable for individual institutes.”

He added: “Every platform requires specific and advanced expertise, and this is expensive too. Sharing human and technological resources becomes crucial. Having common platforms guarantees that we all work with experts with both highly specific expertise and a solid background in cardiovascular disease.”

More than being just core facilities, the EVGN platforms base their work on collaborative projects. “The scientists who work at the platforms,” Tedgui said, “are not technicians; they are involved in collaborative projects with several EVGN partners.”

EVGN, which was launched in 2004, will be active until the end of 2008. But its legacy will be taken on by new specific projects to be activated during the 7th Framework Program. “What we have done here with EVGN [is] to lay the foundations of European vascular disease with a highly collaborative approach,” Tedgui said. “Now we need to go on. Some of the area that will be covered by the new Program directly interest EVGN members. For example inflammatory and vascular remodeling, or stem cells in ischemic disease. Several groups and leaders of EVGN will join together and propose innovative actions in these fields of research.”

EVGN is the first network of excellence on cardiovascular disease funded by the European Commission under the 6th Framework Program, also known as “Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health.”

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) rank higher than in the past in the priorities of the national health systems of the EU. They account for more deaths than cancer. Every year the consequences of CVDs, such as myocardial infarction and strokes, kill some 5 million people in Europe and cost more than $500 billion in terms of healthcare expenses and loss of productivity of those who survive.

EVGN’s membership includes 25 scientific institutions and three companies from 10 different European countries.

Philips, Bioscan in pact for NanoSPECT

Royal Philips Electronics (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and Bioscan (Washington) reported that they have signed an agreement giving Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Massachusetts) co-marketing and co-distribution rights for Bioscan’s in vivo molecular imaging products, NanoSPECT and NanoSPECT/CT. The agreement covers countries in Europe, the Middle-East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

NanoSPECT, Bioscan’s preclinical imager uses multiplexed multi-pinhole single photon emission computed tomography technology, increasing the system sensitivity 10-fold and improving spatial resolution to the sub-millimeter range, according to Bioscan. NanoSPECT is capable of imaging study subjects at lower injected dose levels and images are obtained in minutes rather than hours, enabling dynamic SPECT.

Using NanoSPECT, it is possible to look inside the organs of studied subjects with high-clarity functional images.

Bioscan says NanoSPECT/CT is a system that integrates up to four SPECT detectors equipped with multi-pinhole collimators and the precision of helical CT scanning. This combination offers image resolution at the nanoliter level as well as improved image contrast for small lesion detection, precise lesion localization, and accurate quantification.

Jay Mazelsky, senior VP and general manager, nuclear medicine, for Philips Medical Systems, said, “Preclinical imaging is increasingly used to accelerate drug discovery and to identify and validate more specific drug targets that could be used for personalized treatment of disease. The addition of Bioscan’s NanoSPECT/CT to our preclinical imaging product portfolio offers our customers immediate access to this exciting research tool and the security of knowing it is backed by Philips’ industry-leading customer support.”

Bioscan will continue to market and sell the NanoSPECT product line in the US and will continue to focus on the biotech and pharmaceutical market segment in Europe and other parts of the world.

Ted Kleinman, Bioscan’s president/CEO, said that Philips’ worldwide customer base, distribution network and quality products “will boost the market demand for this outstanding product and will certainly benefit our customers.”

Philips bills itself as the market leader in medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring systems, energy efficient lighting solutions, personal care and home appliances, as well as consumer electronics.

Bioscan is a developer of instrumentation for the synthesis and detection of radiolabeled compounds used in life science research, pharmaceutical development, and nuclear medicine.