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BioE (St. Paul, Minnesota), which provides human cord blood stem cells for use as cellular tools for drug discovery and therapeutic research, and the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (Newcastle, UK) have formed a research partnership to advance the near-term therapeutic application of cells derived from human umbilical cord blood, including stem cells.

The collaboration will involve the use of BioE's PrepaCyte cell isolation platform to establish protocols for isolating rare stem cells with significant therapeutic potential from cord blood. They said this could lead to the development of an extensive library of cord blood stem cells accessible for therapeutic research and drug discovery purposes by academic institutions and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies around the world.

”Our research indicates cord blood has an amazing capacity to develop into a wide range of human tissues, including blood, blood vessel, liver and nervous tissues,” said Dr. Colin McGuckin, professor of regenerative medicine at the University of Newcastle's United Kingdom Center for Cord Blood.

He added: ”This capability could have a huge impact not only on treating human disease, but also on providing human tissues for drug development and testing, potentially removing the uncertainty of whether new drugs will have side effects. Our partnership with BioE moves forward a platform technology specifically designed to help develop cord blood for the benefit of regenerative medicine.”

Dr. Nicolas Forraz, clinical sciences business manager at the University of Newcastle and senior research associate in McGuckin's group, said the joint work with BioE ”is the first successful international stem cell commercial collaboration executed . . . within the UK that advances the development of cord blood stem cells from the bench to clinical applications.”

Using PrepaCyte formulations that will be developed by BioE and the university as part of the partnership, researchers hope to isolate a variety of stem cell populations, including the University of Newcastle's Cord Blood Embryonic-like stem cells (CBEs) – which have already shown the capacity to differentiate into multiple cell types, such as liver.

”We are excited to partner with some of the world's leading stem cell researchers at the University of Newcastle to advance the utility of our PrepaCyte platform,” said Michael Haider, BioE's president and CEO.

The UK Center for Cord Blood is part of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, which draws together Durham and Newcastle universities, the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust and other partners in an interdisciplinary collaboration to convert stem cell research and technologies into cost-effective, ethically-robust health solutions.

MSI cites Ukraine test results

Medical Services International (MSI; Edmonton, Alberta), which has been approved to sell VScan HIV test kits in Ukraine since June 2005, said it has just received the official report related to the testing that was completed by health authorities in that country.

The report shows that the VScan HIV test kits had a specificity of 100% and a sensitivity of 99.8%.

MSI said that the Ukraine report, combined with test results from other European health authorities, will be used in the application for CE-mark approval in the European Union.

It is anticipated that the report will be submitted within the next two weeks. The company said approval in the EU will allow it to market the VScan HIV test kit in another 26 countries.

Preliminary market studies indicate that MSI will sell in excess of 1.5 million kits in the first year after receiving EU approval.

The company said the outstanding test results obtained in Eastern Europe are the reason that the VScan test kits are receiving such a positive response elsewhere.

Philips donates ultrasound systems

Royal Philips Electronics (Andover, Massachusetts) reported that it has agreed to donate 50 ultrasound systems, valued at an estimated $2.6 million, to the Global Ultrasound Equipment Donation Foundation (GUEDF), a not-for-profit organization that provides ultrasound equipment and training to needy clinics, hospitals and teaching facilities in emerging and developing countries around the world.

The company said the equipment will help patients receive care that is equivalent with many developed nations.

”Every year we donate medical equipment to worthwhile organizations that bring modern healthcare to under-served patients,” said Barbara Franciose, CEO of Philips' ultrasound and monitoring business. ”This partnership with GUEDF will help give our efforts a significant boost.”

The donation includes systems used for echocardiology, radiology and obstetrics. They are equipped with modern ultrasound technologies such as SonoCT and 3-D imaging that the benefiting institutions could not have afforded on their own.

”There are millions of people around the world who do not have access to even the most basic ultrasound technology,” said Barry Goldberg, MD, president of the GUEDF. ”The donation of advanced systems like these will help adults, children and newborns survive medical conditions that may have otherwise been fatal.”

The first system from this donation, a Philips HDI 5000, is being presented to Seoul City General Hospital, East Branch (Seoul, South Korea). Used for general imaging, including ob/gyn, breast, vascular, abdominal and adult cardiology, the system's SonoCT compound imaging and 3-D capabilities will allow the hospital to provide under-serve! patients in Seoul advanced care that is not currently available to them.

Since its establishment in 2003, GUEDF has provided more than 200 ultrasound systems to needy hospitals and clinics in more than 25 countries.

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