A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

A milestone in the imaging of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) has been reached through a collaboration between radiochemists from the University of Pittsburgh and GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin), the organizations said. The University of Pittsburgh has started a study aimed at obtaining preliminary information on the performance of flourine-18 labeled Pittsburgh Compound B (F-18 PiB) to identify amyloid deposits in subjects with a diagnosis of AD.

Chet Mathis, a professor of radiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the PET Facility at UPMC said, "early results are encouraging and we look forward to the larger multi-site trials that GE Healthcare will perform with F-18 PiB in early 2007."

The imaging of brain amyloid by carbon-11 PiB has been judged by Nature Medicine to be one of the most significant advances in the field of AD in recent years. Multiple sites have now replicated the landmark studies reported by Klunk et al in Annals of Neurology in 2004. More recently the Alzheimer's Association (Chicago) and GE have funded a C-11 PIB add-on study to the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a $60M study to determine the value of brain imaging.

Although C-11 PiB can be used for academic studies, the 20-minute half-life of C-11 and limited manufacturing access means the molecule is not suitable for widespread use as a routine diagnostic agent. F-18, with a half-life of 110 minutes, offers a much better opportunity for manufacturing and distribution.

In 2003, GE Healthcare licensed a number of compounds from the University of Pittsburgh. Proof of concept studies have already been performed in collaboration with GE Healthcare's IMANET organization, leading to the selection of the lead candidate for further research. Subsequent work has focused on producing the F-18 PiB material to the quality standards necessary for clinical trial use.

GE Healthcare provides products and services intended to help healthcare providers better diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases, and other conditions earlier.

In other agreements news:

• Dmetrix (Tucson, Arizona) has teamed with Definiens (Munich, Germany) to combine platforms and provide a high-throughput, ultra-rapid quantitative and objective tool for preclinical research to speed the development process for new therapeutics.

The partnership is intended to develop a complete solution to enable automated digital pathology. The partners will jointly develop connectors for the new solution, which will enable customers to benefit from the image capture-to-analysis process in drug discovery, delivering faster results, the companies said. The solution includes the DMetrix DX-40 array-microscope whole slide scanner designed to capture images of slides in less than one minute as well as the Definiens Enterprise Image Intelligence suite of products.

DMetrix is a privately held company and the exclusive developer of array-microscope technology. Definiens bills itself as the No. 1 enterprise image intelligence company for interpreting images from microscopic cell structures to satellite images.

• VisEn Medical (Woburn, Massachusetts) said it has entered into a joint research program to expand the capabilities and accelerate the adoption of its in vivo fluorescence technologies in Eli Lilly's (Indianapolis) R&D programs.

Lilly has been working with VisEn's portfolio of in vivo fluorescence probes and Fluorescence Molecular Tomography (FMT) imaging systems as part of their new molecular imaging center and preclinical development programs. The program is intended to further the development and expand the application of VisEn's fluorescence in vivo imaging technologies in drug development.

"This expanded research program represents an important step in VisEn's mission of working closely with leaders in the field to develop and translate the highest performance fluorescence imaging technologies from research into clinical medicine," said Kirtland Poss, president/CEO of VisEn.

VisEn's fluorescence imaging technologies are designed to provide accuracy in identifying, characterizing and quantifying a range of biological processes in vivo, including known molecular activities underlying disease states such as cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular and bone disease, enabling expanded areas of research and more efficient drug development, the company said.

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