A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

SonoSite (Bothell, Washington) reported signing a new three-year, group purchasing agreement with Premier Purchasing Partners (San Diego) for hand-carried ultrasound equipment, accessories and service.

SonoSite's newest product, the MicroMaxx system, which incorporates the company's third generation of hand-carried ultrasound technology, began shipping in June 2005 and represents a "crossover point between hand-carried and cart-based systems," it said.

Premier is a healthcare alliance owned by more than 200 leading not-for-profit hospital and healthcare systems. These organizations operate or are affiliated with nearly 1,400 hospital facilities and 37,000 other care sites.

In other agreements news:

• PerkinElmer (Boston) reported entering into an agreement with the National Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), launched in 2004, to provide reagents, instrumentation and support for identifying small molecules which can be used to understand cellular events involved in health and disease, potentially leading to drug discovery.

NCGC gains access to PerkinElmer's reagent portfolio and scientific experts who are helping develop assays and protocols. The three leading reagent technologies being used are AlphaScreen, Lance and Delfia.

AlphaScreen is a non-radioactive bead-based technology enabling the screening of biological interactions, particularly with the largest target class – kinases. Lance is a technology that supports the measurement of various analytes and screens diverse biological interactions. Delfia, a counterpart to Lance, is an enabling fluorescence technology allowing for sensitive and multiplexed detection of analytes.

Robert Friel, president, PerkinElmer Life and Analytical Sciences, said, "We believe that our capability to provide comprehensive solutions helps eliminate the time consuming and expensive problem of trying to unify all the components of drug discovery – liquid handling and prep, assay development and multi-label detection."

The NCGC is an ultra-high-throughput screening and chemistry center formed by the NIH in 2004 to discover chemical probes of gene and cell functions across the genome using its quantitative HTS technology.

• Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pennsylvania) and Imris (Winnipeg, Manitoba) reported the signing of a global OEM agreement.

Siemens Magnetom Espree and Magnetom Symphony MRI systems will be incorporated into Imris' ceiling-mounted surgical imaging systems, used in neurosurgical, spinal and soft tissue procedures.

iMotion, Imris' ceiling-mounted MRI, can be moved between the diagnostic imaging area and operating room by a track system, ensuring advanced medical technology in multiple locations. In addition, the combination of Siemens' diagnostic technology and Imris' surgical innovations are designed to enable surgeons to remove diseased tissue more efficiently, reduce damage to healthy tissue, and decrease visits to the operating room for subsequent surgeries. Ultimately, this helps to improve patient outcomes and provides a strong financial platform for medical facilities, the company said.

"The challenge of having an MRI system solely in the OR is that it can be costly and may take medical facilities years to recoup their investment," said David Graves, president, Imris. "By offering a system that can be used in the OR as well as the diagnostic imaging department, a facility can realize a significantly improved return on investment.

The Magnetom Espree with Tim (Total imaging matrix) technology is the world's only 70 cm Open Bore 1.5 Tesla (1.5T) MRI system, the companies said.

• Tm Bioscience (Toronto), which focuses on the commercial genetic testing market, and Luminex (Austin, Texas), a provider of multiplex solutions, reported they have signed a multi-year extension of their partnership agreement, which grants Tm rights to commercialize DNA-based molecular diagnostics that operate on Luminex's xMAP technology platform.

All genetic tests from Tm Bioscience are based on the Tag-It Universal Array platform, which uses a universal tag system that allows for easy optimization, product development and expansion.

Assays from Tm utilize the Luminex xMAP technology platform, the industry benchmark for bead based bioassay multiplexing. Combined, the Universal Array and Luminex instrument are a best in class solution for performing clinical grade multiplexed genetic tests.

The original agreement between Tm Bioscience and Luminex expires on March 28. The renegotiated agreement incorporates similar terms to the original, including the ability for Tm to distribute Luminex's xMAP systems such as the new LX200 instrument.