• Cyberonics (Houston) reported the initiation of a study that will evaluate long-term clinical and economic outcomes for patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) who are treated with vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy. The study will include a comprehensive review and analysis of existing data on clinical and economic outcomes associated with treating TRD with VNS therapy compared to the clinical and economic outcomes of treating TRD with treatment-as-usual without VNS therapy. Using the Markov Model, a well-established formulaic approach particularly suited for modeling the progression of chronic diseases such as TRD, study investigators will be able to project benefits and costs beyond the timeframe of existing data. This method will allow researchers to compute the clinical and economic outcomes of patients with TRD treated for up to five years with VNS therapy, the company said.

• HepaLife Technologies (Vancouver, British Columbia) reported that its liver stem cells have demonstrated the ability to survive and function without feeder cell support, what the company called a significant cell biology objective in the research and development of its artificial liver device for human patients suffering from acute liver failure. In ongoing research, HepaLife's PICM-19H liver stem cells have demonstrated the ability to not only survive, but also remain functional without feeder cell support. PICM-19H cell culture without the aid of STO feeder cells will allow for a more defined cell culture system, an active research and application goal of the company. A defined PICM-19H cell culture may also be important for potential FDA approval of HepaLife's artificial liver device, currently under development and expected to incorporate the PICM-19H cells as a key component.

• Identa (Jerusalem), a provider of on-site drug detection kits, said that it has begun production and delivery of a new product for the detection of amphetamines. The announcement comes after a recent series of successful tests with law enforcement agencies in Poland. The amphetamine drug detector will immediately become part of IDenta's Stinger detection kits used by professional law enforcement agencies around the world, as well as being packaged in the company's line of retail products labeled IDenta Confirm. IDenta also recently reported that it has begun distributing another new product for the detection of Katamine, a date rape drug.

• Smiths Medical (Carlsbad, California) reported the development of the new Advantiv Safety I.V. catheter. Combining the safety of an encased needle tip and ease of use of a passive design, Advantiv offers a full 360 degrees of encased needle tip protection. Its fully-integrated tip protector moves with the catheter hub during placement, gently releases on disconnect, and its internal locking mechanism is designed to minimize the chance of accidental needlestick injury. The passive safety catheter has an electropolished V-point needle and low profile that make insertion easy and smooth. Another unique feature is its flexible Ocrilon Polyurethane catheter – it is firm for insertion, softens in the vein for enhanced patient comfort, and resists kinking.

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