Diagnostics & Imaging Week s

SonoSite (Bothell, Washington), focused on the development of hand-carried ultrasound systems, reported that it has signed an agreement with Siemens Medical Solutions (Erlangen, Germany) for Siemens to market and distribute its MicroMaxx and Titan systems into Germany's general imaging and point-of-care hospital markets.

For SonoSite, the agreement is an obvious coup, since it represents the linkage of a relatively small firm with a global powerhouse in the imaging sector.

Dieter Schwartmann, SonoSite vice president, Europe, for SonoSite, called the agreement a "win-win situation" for both companies. "Siemens has the opportunity to offer bundled deals with our systems, and we have the chance to get into the big hospital chains and institutions," he told Diagnostics & Imaging Week.

"We believe that working together will create and expand opportunities for both companies as well as accelerate the adoption of hand-carried ultrasound in this strategically important market."

He noted that, to date, ultrasound in the "mobile market" sector has not been large in Germany, but that the agreement provides a chance to exploit a gradual movement in that country from "the traditional ultrasound market of cart-based systems" – the primary space addressed by Siemens – to the more "portable, hand-based systems."

The initial distribution deal with Siemens will be an opportunity to expand the relationship to other areas of Europe, Schwartmann said.

He said that besides doing a technical assessment of SonoSite's products, Siemens had based the deal on "statements from our customers" concerning the quality of the hand-carried devices, and that these were perhaps the most important deciders in developing the accord.

Klaus Hambuechen, president of the Siemens Medical Solutions Ultrasound division, said in a statement: "The SonoSite systems are a good complement to the Siemens ultrasound product line. Siemens can now respond to the very special needs of care in mobile ultrasound."

Weighing less than 4 kilograms, the value proposition of SonoSite's hand-carried systems is to pack the benefits of clear ultrasound images into a device looking much like a laptop computer, according to the company. This, in turn, it says, takes ultrasound visualization to wherever the patient is located and reduces the risk, time and expense of transporting patients to a hospital imaging center.

SonoSite reports having a worldwide installed base of more than 25,000 systems and is represented by eight subsidiaries and a global distribution network in more than 75 countries.

SonoSite GmbH (Erlangen, Germany) oversees a direct sales distribution network in Germany and Switzerland.

Pieris Proteolab in pact with GE Healthcare

Pieris Proteolab (Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany) and GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) have entered a research collaboration for the discovery of novel targeted in vivo diagnostic and medical imaging compounds for enabling earlier detection and diagnosis of major diseases such as cancer. No financial details were disclosed.

Pieris says that its proprietary Anticalin technology enables the rapid generation of high affinity human protein product candidates for defined disease targets. Due to their favorable biodistribution, high target specificity and acceptability to protein engineering approaches, Anticalins are candidates for targeted in vivo imaging applications, according to Pieris.

After an initial feasibility study, the companies have entered into this collaboration to test the Anticalin technology for targeted imaging. Pieris will use the Anticalin technology to select protein ligands to two disease relevant targets selected by GE Healthcare. GE will then have an option to advance clinical development of any imaging agent resulting from the collaboration under an exclusive license. The rights for therapeutic use of the Anticalins will remain with Pieris.

"Based on our knowledge and data we always considered targeted imaging as a very attractive application for Anticalins," said Dr. Volker Lang, vice president of business development for Pieris.

Dr. Marivi Mendizabal, head of research for GE Healthcare's Medical Diagnostics, said, "Our aim is to allow diagnosis of diseases as early as possible, thereby allowing physicians to optimize therapy on a personalized basis."

Tomtec introduces new 4D echo solution

Tomtec (Munich, Germany), a developer of 2-D and 3-D/4-D ulstrasound, has introduced 4-D LV-Function, describing it as a tool for comprehensive left ventricular (LV) analysis using 3-D echocardiographic datasets.

The software focuses on clinical parameters for analyzing LV function and quantifying dyssynchrony, providing analyses and values with reproducibility at the bedside. The software tracks the endocardial border of the ventricle in 3-D, providing a model that represents the geometry of the ventricle and deriving stroke volume and ejection fraction from those measurement. Using a 16-segment model, it also can perform regional volumetric analysis on subdivisions of the ventricle. This makes it straightforward to diagnose problems of both global and regional function of the ventricle. 4-D LV-Function also can assess the timing of regional contraction, presenting a measure of the dyssynchrony of the ventricle for selecting patients that should respond well to cardiac resynchronization therapy.

Test kits approved by Saudi Arabia

Medical Services International (Edmonton, Alberta) reported receiving regulatory approval of its VScan Dengue Fever test kit in Saudi Arabia.

It said that currently there is an outbreak of Dengue Fever in the Middle East and that it believes that Saudi Arabia approval of the kit should increase its sales from 400,000 to 750,000 units.

The VScan rapid test kit is a single use, disposable test for the screening of HIV 1&2, hepatitis B&C, tuberculosis, Dengue Fever, West Nile, syphilis, malaria and prostate cancer.

Eastern Europe monitor market on the rise

Due mainly to unfulfilled demand, Eastern Europe represents an upcoming market for patient monitors, driven by unfulfilled demand, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan (F&S; London). It said that improving economic conditions together with accession to the European Union will further support the expansion of the market in the region. The most exciting growth opportunities will be in the mid-range monitors segment, which is expected to account for nearly half of overall revenues.

F&S finds that the Eastern European patient monitors market, earned revenue of $148 million in 2005, and that it is projected to reach $246 million in 2012.

"Increased demand for multi-parameter monitors has severely hindered the growth of single-parameter units," said an F&S research analyst. "This development, together with the low preference for refurbished monitors will boost the growth of new high-end devices."

Sales of single-parameter monitors have reduced significantly with trends favoring mid-range units. End users are exhibiting preference for monitors that measure more than four vital signs, with customer price sensitivity determining their desire to look for consolidated, one-time investments. As a result, demand for new multi-parameter monitors is rising, even as sales for single-parameter and refurbished equipment lag.

Accession to the EU, harmonization of laws with EU legislation and the availability of international funds have improved product accessibility in Eastern Europe, with intensifying competition set to drive down product prices.

While declining prices spell good news for end users, price erosion is a growing concern for patient monitors manufacturers, whose revenues and profit margins are being squeezed.

Large market participants are compromising their profits by bundling their products even as small and medium-sized companies are being severely affected. This situation has triggered increasing market fragmentation, which, in turn, is reducing confidence levels among end users.

"To sustain profitability in this increasingly competitive market, manufacturers need to develop cost-effective, high-quality products and provide product packages," the analyst said. "Partnering with technology vendors and other equipment manufacturers, together with good after-sales service, holds the key to gaining market share."

B-K Medical launches 8814 transducer

B-K Medical, a subsidiary of Analogic (both Copenhagen, Denmark) reported the launch of the 8814, a simultaneous biplane surgical ultrasound transducer designed for interventional procedures. Designed for intraoperative scanning of the liver, pancreas, and stomach, the 8814 is optimized for ultrasound-guided interventional procedures, including RF ablation, biopsies, and drainage. The 8814 also offers contrast harmonic imaging.

Shaped like a "V," the 8814 features two arrays that image in intersecting perpendicular planes; the needle path directly traverses the intersection of the two planes, thus providing a large benefit as a mapping tool. By following the needle in the intersection of the planes, the surgeon can focus on the target in one plane while also keeping an eye on adjacent structures in the second plane.

The 8814 features a needle guide with four different inserts for interventional procedures, offering flexibility for a range of angles, positions, and needle gauges. The needle guide can also be locked for safety to prevent accidental advancement of the needle. For RF ablation procedures, the needle guide and transducer can be removed easily while the needle is left in place.