A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) and St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) reported what they termed a "significant" agreement to develop an integrated imaging/monitoring capability to cardiac catheterization labs.

The companies said they will develop a "state-of-the-art" cardiovascular ultrasound imaging system with fully integrated intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) imaging capabilities, for use in treating heart disease.

Through the collaboration, GE's ultrasound technology will be integrated with St. Jude's catheter technology to provide real-time ultrasound imaging inside the heart, with direct visualization of both blood flow and other catheters used during cardiac procedures. The combined imaging technology is expected to give physicians high-quality diagnostic images of cardiac structures and blood flow throughout the heart.

"These new visualization tools are like having eyes inside the patient's heart, without actually having to open the chest," said Dr. Laurence Epstein, chief of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston). "The development of ICE technology has changed how we approach ablation procedures. We can visualize, in real time, the actual anatomic structures that we are targeting."

"GE Healthcare technologies are utilized in 112 of the 120 electrophysiology teaching institutions today. This latest agreement with St. Jude Medical is a natural extension of our commitment to delivering state-of-the–art tools and technologies to the electrophysiologist," said Laura King, global vice president, Interventional Cardiology of GE Healthcare. "We are excited about bringing together the expertise from two innovative companies to enable effective, minimally invasive therapies," said King.

• Agile Software (San Jose, California), a provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions, reported GE Medical Systems Kretztechnik's (Austria) selection of Agile Advantage to accelerate its product development processes.

GE Medical Systems Kretztechnik develops and produces 3-D/4-D medical ultrasonic devices for the world market. The short innovation cycles in medical engineering and the continuous expansion of their product portfolio drove GE Medical Systems Kretztechnik to the decision to introduce a PLM solution, the company said.

• Illumina (San Diego) has made an agreement with Amgen (Cambridge, Massachusetts) to buy a large, multicomponent genetic analysis system for Infinium genotyping. Amgen, in collaboration with the Brigham & Women's Hospital (Boston) will use Illumina technology to analyze about 28,000 samples at Amgen's facility as part of the Women's Genome Health Study. The study will look at genetic variation in American women that may underlie illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Jay Flatley, president/CEO of Illumina, said that it is "moving us closer towards the understanding of the causes and treatments for these conditions."

Using the HumanHap300-Duo BeadChip, the Women's Genome Health Study will genotype 28,000 women, all of whom have been clinically monitored for more than 10 years and tracked for the development of common diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Paul Ridker, MD, of Brigham & Women's Hospital, said, "By analyzing data from this study physicians may be able to identify which of their patients are genetically predisposed to diseases such as heart disease and breast cancer, and potentially tailor their treatment approach."

• Mentor (Santa Barbara, California) has entered into a commercialization pact with Genzyme (Cambridge, Massachusetts) for Genzyme to develop future hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal filler products. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The first product launch under the agreement is scheduled to occur internationally in early 2007, with worldwide launch of an additional product in late 2007. Under the agreement, Genzyme and Mentor will partner to develop a next-generation, longer-lasting HA dermal filler.

Mentor makes products for surgical and non-surgical medical procedures designed to allow patients to retain a more youthful appearance.

• Sysmex America (Mundelein, Illinois) reported that LifeShare Blood Centers (Shreveport, Louisiana) has selected the Sysmex XE-2100D automated hematology analyzers for use in its Shreveport and Lake Charles, Louisiana, blood centers, said John Kershaw, president, Sysmex America. The network of LifeShare Blood Centers serves dialysis centers, surgical centers, area hospitals and extended care facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The XE-2100D will be used by LifeShare for quality control testing of prepared components such as red cells and platelet apheresis to ensure that the components deliver the expected therapeutic benefit. The analyzer is designed to rapidly and accurately measure parameters such as hemoglobin, hematocrit (direct) and platelet count and has extended linearity capabilities, the company said.

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