A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pennsylvania) and Chongqing Haifu Technology (Chongqing, China) reported a collaboration to develop an MRI-guided, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) therapy system, with a focus on women's health treatments, including benign uterine fibroids and cancer, and malignant and benign tumors of the liver, kidney, pancreas and bone.

"Combining Siemens' MRI technology with Haifu's unmatched clinical expertise in non-invasive, fast HIFU protocols will further the ability to identify and treat tumors, improving care options for doctors and patients alike," said Nancy Gillen, vice president of Siemens Medical's MRI Division. "With innovations such as TIM [Total imaging matrix] technology and powerful applications, [our] MRI solutions provide the ideal partner with their ability to visualize disease states and thus allow for earlier treatment."

The combination of MRI and HIFU is intended to enable improved visualization of tumor morphology and more precise thermal dose control to reduce treatment times. Further developments involve MRI applications for diagnosis, therapy planning and outcome assessment.

Patient treatment will be performed on a special HIFU patient bed inside the bore of Siemens' MRI scanners. "Magnetom Espree with TIM technology provides the HIFU beam excellent access to the tumor location as it offers maximum freedom for patient positioning," the companies said in a statement. Sonication of uterine fibroids is expected to take considerably less time than with traditional technology.

Since the 1950s, HIFU has been proposed as a therapeutic method, and now is used daily around the world, with ultrasound technology commonly used as a guided imaging modality. Positive clinical outcomes involving HIFU have been documented in more than 25 international peer-reviewed publications, the companies said.

Chongqing Haifu, founded in 1999, specializes in developing therapeutic ultrasound systems. The company has its own Clinical Center for Tumor Therapy and cooperates with the Institute of Ultrasound Engineering in Medicine at Chongqing University of Medical Sciences.

In other Siemens Medical Solutions news, Axis Three (Belfast, Northern Ireland), which refers to itself as a pioneer in 3-D solutions for cosmetic and plastic surgery, reported the closing of a $1.7 million funding round and an exclusive partnership with Siemens Medical Solutions.

The partnership will support the further development of an advanced 3-D capturing and imaging solution, which the companies said would enable patients to see the "before" and "after" effects of different cosmetic surgery procedures in realistic photo 3-D. Siemens exclusively licensed 3-D image acquisition technology for cosmetic surgery and other applications to Axis Three and will provide support and assistance in developing the advanced scanning system.

The funding round was led by Clarendon Fund Managers and supported by Invest Northern Ireland. Investors included NITech and Viridian Growth Fund, Halo the Northern Ireland Business Angel Network and the University Challenge Fund.

LDX System used in Swiss screening

The Swiss Heart Foundation (Berne, Switzerland), a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting cardiovascular research and promoting cardiovascular health, featured Cholestech's (Hayward, California) LDX System, a cholesterol monitoring tool, during heart health screenings last month.

Some 14,000 people were screened in 32 cities around Switzerland as part of the organization's "Meeting of the Heart" program.

On Valentine's Day, the foundation submitted its report on Swiss cardiac health to Pascal Couchepin, member of the Federal Council and head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs.

The "Meeting of the Heart" program is the largest cardiac health study of its kind in Switzerland. The ongoing program is designed to educate the general population about cardiovascular risks and the means to avoid cardiovascular events by adopting healthier lifestyles.

The program includes health seminars that explain basic medical principles behind heart health and ideas on how to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The program also featured the Cardiomobile, which from November 2004 to November 2005 traveled to 32 Swiss cities and provided heart health screenings to more than 14,000 people. Participants were offered glucose and cholesterol screenings, as well as blood pressure and body mass assessments.

Results of the "Meeting of the Heart" program demonstrated that 10,000 out of 14,000 participants have at least one cardiac risk factor, the most prominent factors include abnormally high lipids (cholesterol), excessive weight and hypertension.

Professor Felix Gutzwiller, national adviser and director of the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine (Zurich), said that of particular concern was the fact that between 30% and 50% of those screened had multiple risk factors. To combat such risk, Couchepin and Gutzwiller urged all Swiss residents over the age of 40 to monitor their blood pressure and cholesterol levels annually.

The cholesterol screening during Cardiomobile screening events was conducted using the Cholestech LDX System, which generates what the company terms "comprehensive, lab-accurate results" in minutes. Using a simple finger-stick, the system measures cholesterol, glucose and liver enzymes, and high sensitivity C-reactive protein.

"This enhances the ability to quickly identify patients with risk factors for heart disease, enabling physicians to focus on getting patients on the right treatment sooner and making sure they stay on the right therapeutic mix," Cholestech said.

Warren Pinckert II, president and CEO, said the choice of the LDX System for use in the program "validates our ability to offer the highest-quality point-of-care diagnostic tools that can generate lab-accurate results in minutes."

The Cholestech LDX System carries the CE mark for marketing of medical devices in the European Union. The Meeting of the Heart program was implemented and supported locally by DiaMedic, Cholestech's distribution partner in Switzerland.

New Australian facility for Xytos

Xytos (Indianapolis), which introduced a new cancer diagnostic procedure and treatment in November of last year, said it has completed the purchase of a new medical facility in Mulgrave, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.

The company said the new facility represents "a major step forward in our aggressive goal to globalize our next-generation biomedical technologies."

Xytos said the facility would allow it to "significantly increase the number of patients that need treatment in Australia and Southeast Asia." It will also, it said, "allow us to assist patients from other areas of the world who are in need of treatment while Xytos is preparing to open other treatment centers worldwide."

The company said the Australian facility would be renovated to include two surgery theaters dedicated specifically to training in its new technologies. The facility will have on-site viewing in each surgical theater, as well as closed-circuit televisions for training Xytos doctors and medical staff elsewhere in the world.

Xytos is focused on research, development and introduction of procedures in the areas of stem-cell therapies, tissue engineering and cellular medicine.

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