A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen; Phoenix) and GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) have entered into an alliance to apply advanced cellular genomics technologies and strategies to improve and accelerate the discovery and development of new drugs and diagnostics.

The collaboration will support the goals of translating basic genomic research into early health solutions for some of the most urgent problems facing healthcare today, the companies said in their announcement.

TGen translates genomic discoveries into earlier diagnoses and treatments.

Spyro Mousses, PhD, director of pharmaceutical genomics and cancer drug development at TGen, said that GE's advanced imaging systems "allow us to observe cellular morphology more clearly and perform cytometry at an unprecedented rate. Most importantly, we can more accurately collect multi-parametric information about how cells are responding to specific genetic perturbations and to specific drug exposures."

Tgen's high-throughput cellular analysis research program will be equipped with both the GE IN Cell Analyzer 3000 and 1000 to identify and characterize cancer-associated genes that can be used to help develop more targeted medicines.

TGen describes translational genomics research as applying advances from the Human Genome Project to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other diseases.

GE Healthcare also reported becoming a contracted vendor for the ACC-NCDR Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) registry.

GE will develop software to allow institutions to send procedure data to the ACC-NCDR. The company also said it introduced new electronic forms that will expedite participation in the ACC-NCDR ICD registry, the forms being a new feature on the MacLab Hemodynamic Monitoring and CardioLab Electrophysiology Monitoring systems providing point-of-care data collection of ICD data for download to the ACC-NCDR ICD registry software.

The registry software will enable the electronic submission of information required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS; Baltimore) for hospital compliance and reimbursement, a prerequisite included as part of the CMS 2005 decision to expand Medicare coverage of ICD procedures.

GE said it expects ACC-NCDR ICD registry software to be certified in 4Q06.

In other agreements:

• Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Massachusetts), a division of Royal Philips Electronics, and the medical and engineering schools of Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire), reported they have entered into a multi-year research agreement to develop innovative imaging capabilities that aim to better enable earlier detection and treatment of heart disease, cancer and neurological diseases.

For Dartmouth, this is the first of its kind collaboration that brings together world-class academic and clinical researchers from Dartmouth Medical School and the Thayer School of Engineering with industry-leading technology and scientists from Philips to develop novel diagnostics and therapies to improve clinical care.

Researchers will utilize a range of Philips imaging solutions, including using targeted molecular imaging to help visualize newly formed blood vessels in the cardiovascular system. Through functional and metabolic imaging, researchers may be able to measure the impact of these new vessels on tissue function and blood perfusion (the ability to force a fluid through an organ). Additionally, by utilizing modalities such as magnetic resonance (MR) and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, researchers may be able to develop new techniques for diagnosing and treating of patients with cardiac and peripheral ischemia.

Dartmouth's Advanced Imaging Center (AIC) is housed at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC; Lebanon, New Hampshire), the principal site for research including clinical trials in cancer, cardiology, and neurology.

"Improving diagnosis and treatment options for cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological conditions represents one of the biggest challenges in medicine," said Dartmouth Medical School Dean Stephen Spielberg, MD. "The role of medical imaging in these areas has grown exponentially in recent years, with groundbreaking work taking place in imaging the brain, the heart, and other organs. Working with our colleagues from the Thayer School and Philips, Dartmouth sees the opportunity to combine the intellectual strengths of academia with an industry leader as a key to further unlock advances in medical imaging."

In the studies being conducted at Dartmouth, researchers will employ a multi-modality approach that may impact diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease and various cancers in the breast and brain. For example, an enhanced ability to assess tissue viability in a reliable manner would be an important clinical tool in cardiovascular disease. The combination of imaging plaque in new vessels with PET imaging would increase the reliability of non-invasive detection of fatty substances along the artery wall.

"Philips Medical Systems is deeply committed to advancing the diagnosis and treatment of diseases to enhance patient care through innovative research," said Diego Olego, senior vice president and chief technology officer, for Philips Medical Systems. "Working side-by-side with a prestigious medical school like Dartmouth, we will establish ways to improve and develop imaging solutions that address some of the world's more prevalent diseases."

The Alternative Breast Cancer Imaging Center at Dartmouth develops and evaluates alternatives to current imaging methods to increase the accuracy of breast cancer detection and diagnosis, and monitoring of breast cancer progression and regression.

Through this collaboration with Philips, Dartmouth will perform research with micro positron emission tomography, as well as other imaging technologies over the course of the relationship. These new imaging technologies will enable scientists to test new molecular imaging technologies, which may allow the identification of changes in the structures and functions of myocardial tissue, as well as tumor cells for brain, breast and prostate cancer.

For example, The Neuroscience Center and Neuroimaging Research Center at Dartmouth focuses on how advanced imaging technology can help detection and assessment of early neurological disease. Key research objectives include enhanced understanding of basic disease processes, recognizing risk factors, and identifying mechanisms of treatment among prevalent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and drug addiction. Special emphasis is placed on imaging of the brain as it correlates to cognitive, emotional and behavioral processes relevant to early diagnosis, patient characterization and treatment monitoring.

• BD Diagnostics (Baltimore), a unit of BD (Becton, Dickinson and Co.; Franklin Lakes, New Jersey), reported the signing of an agreement with BioReference Laboratories (BRLI; Elmwood Park, New Jersey) for BD to supply BRLI with instrumentation and reagents for testing and diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections.

Testing for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae will be run on the SCARA robotic automation platform, of the BD Viper System. BD will be the primary supplier to BRLI for testing of these two infectious diseases.