A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Arbor Vita (Sunnyvale, California), a biotech company, reported that it has been awarded about $900,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over two years to develop an in vitro diagnostic test for cervical pre-cancer and cancer.

The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant will fund the company's test, based on detection of the HPV-E6 oncoprotein. The E6 protein has been identified as a cancer specific marker produced by HPV that is associated with progression to cancer.

"HPV-E6 has long been recognized as a protein responsible for the progression of cervical lesions to cervical cancer," said Peter Lu, founder and president/CEO of Arbor Vita. "Until very recently, there has not been a reliable method to specifically detect this important marker. We are eager to use this Phase II SBIR award to advance our proprietary technology to a commercial platform."

The grant will fund Arbor Vita's research to apply its proteomics platform to develop a test for the detection of precancerous cervical lesions using E6, a protein marker associated with cervical cancer. HPV infection is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases with an estimated 5.5 million new infections per year in the U.S. alone.

The standard for cervical cancer screening has been the Pap smear, which has both high false positive and false negative rates. A newer test uses DNA to detect HPV infection, but most HPV infections do not progress to cancer. The E6 oncoprotein promises to be a highly positive predictive marker for women at risk to develop cervical pre-cancerous lesions or cervical cancer.

In other contract news:

The Health Group of Eastman Kodak (Rochester, New York) reported signing a multi-million-dollar order for its digital medical image capture and information manage – with Erlanger Health System (Chattanooga, Tennessee).

Kodak's Business Diagnostics Services will focus on improving productivity within Erlanger's medical imaging process, so that the health system can realize greater efficiencies than it could achieve by installing new technology alone.

Erlanger ordered a Kodak Carestream PACS for review, storage and distribution of 300,000 patient radiology imaging studies captured each year at its five hospitals and one outpatient imaging center. It also purchased Kodak Carestream Enterprise Information Management, enabling centralized management of images and information from radiology, cardiology and other clinical and business areas on the healthcare provider's existing IBM storage area network (SAN).

Kodak will migrate images and information from an existing web server, and will integrate the new picture archiving and communications system (PACS) with both an existing radiology information system (to automate data entry for patient medical x-ray exams) as well as the hospital's centralized storage area network.

Eight Kodak Directview CR 950 and CR 975 Systems for digital image capture were also part of the order.

Kodak's Health Group, reporting ‘05 revenues of $2.65 billion, offers a portfolio including picture archiving and communications systems, radiology information systems, healthcare information systems, computed radiography and digital radiography (DR) systems, laser imagers, mammography and oncology systems, x-ray film systems, dental imaging products, and a range of consulting services.

Erlanger Health System includes five hospitals with 818 acute-care beds.

In other grants/contracts news:

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF; Baltimore), a charitable organization that funds Type 1 diabetes research, reported receiving a $150,000 gift from Cingular Wireless and Chick-fil-A (Atlanta) to support diabetes research.

Cingular developed a promotional offer of a free wireless phone with a $20 donation to JDRF. Chick-fil-A helped market the campaign with point-of-sale materials at its restaurants and advertising on its carry-out bags between July 5 and Aug. 31.

"Cingular Wireless is proud to support JDRF in its race to cure diabetes," said Rob Forsyth, vice president and general manager of Cingular Wireless in Maryland, Washington, and northern Virginia. "Giving back to the communities we serve is a big part of our corporate culture."

Cingular Wireless and Chick-fil-A are sponsors of the Walk to Cure Diabetes program in Maryland.

In other grants/contracts news: WPCS International (Exton, Pennsylvania), focused on design-build engineering services for specialty communication systems and wireless infrastructure, reported that it has been awarded a variety of new projects totaling about $4 million.

One of the contracts awarded to WPCS include projects to be completed for Sutter Health (San Francisco).

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