A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Inserm-Transfert, the venture capital subsidiary of France's National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) has teamed up with three other funds to create a new venture capital firm to provide seed capital and proof-of-concept financing to biotechnology firms.

Known as the Inserm-Transfert Initiative, the fund has been established with a capital of EUR 4.2 million ($5 million) for an initial period of 10 years, which could be ex-tended for two further periods of two years.

Inserm-Transfert's associates are Sofinnova Partners, CDC Enterprises and Ventech, all of Paris, each with a 25% interest in the new fund. Inserm-Tansfert Initiative expects to announce its first investments in the near future.

Its investment director, Jean-Pierre Loza, said that many would-be entrepreneurs have trouble finding pre-seed and seed capital, and that Inserm-Transfert had "chosen to provide early stage support to innovative projects in human health and give real help to business creation at the time when entrepreneurs most need it."

CDC Entreprises is the equity capital arm of the French government's bank, Caisse des D p ts et Consignations, and manages funds totaling EUR 4.2 billion, half of which is invested by CDC itself. Sonfinnova Partners is an independent venture capital fund set up in 1998, which currently manages investments totaling EUR 900 million, while Ventech was spawned by Natexis Private Equity, a subsidiary of Natexis Banques Populaires, and manages investments of EUR 173 million divided between two funds.

MedMira signs Dutch distributor for HIV test

MedMira (Halifax, Nova Scotia) said it has signed a distribution agreement with Clindia Benelux of the Netherlands for the MiraCare Rapid HIV Antibody Test. Clindia will begin sales of the rapid test in late March.

Initially, MedMira's instant HIV test, which detects antibodies in whole blood, serum and plasma, will enter the market via hospitals and public health clinics, where demand is highest.

"Clindia has an excellent reputation and solid experience in diagnostic sales to the healthcare market. We remain excited about the overall potential in Europe and now the opportunity to develop current and future markets for instant HIV tests in the Netherlands with Clindia," said Giles Crouch, vice president of global sales and marketing for MedMira.

The company said the Netherlands will be an important entry point for MiraCare HIV into the European over-the-counter (OTC) market, since healthcare advancements such as OTC rapid HIV tests "are more readily accepted by the country's healthcare system and consumer population."

"To finally have a reliable and instant HIV test available in the Netherlands is an asset to our healthcare system," said Clindia CEO Peter Langens. "MedMira's reputation for quality and their strong technical support team will be of great help as we work together to grow the market."

Two more countries add Zonda tests

Zonda (Moraga, California), which is focused on development of test products that serve the medical diagnostic, bacterial food testing and environmental surfaces testing markets, reported that it has received the first order for its HandiLab-C chlamydia test for Holland and Belgium.

The order for the over-the-counter version of the HandiLab-C test, which will be distributed to pharmacies and other retail locations throughout Holland and Belgium, will be shipped along with re-orders that were placed recently for Swedish and Norwegian pharmacies.

Zonda said its HandiLab-C test is the only over-the-counter chlamydia test that carries the CE mark.

Tammy Dunn, CEO of CLX Investment Co. (Temecula California), which holds a 31% equity interest in Zonda, said, "With the addition of Belgium and Holland, the distribution of Zonda's products continues to grow, as do the revenues from the sale of these products across Europe. We are pleased with the progress that has been made with expanding product distribution in a relatively short period of time and look forward to additional countries being supplied with Zonda testing products over the coming quarters."

Zonda's gonorrhea, yeast and Strep A tests carry CE marks for professional point-of-care use, and Zonda is seeking similar approvals for over-the-counter sales of those products.

Radiology meeting features DOBI system

DOBI Medical International (Mahwah, New Jersey) said it would exhibit its latest Dynamic Optical Breast Imaging (DOBI) technology, the ComfortScan system, at the European Congress of Radiology, which begins Friday and runs through next Monday at the Austria Center Vienna.

Participants from more than 90 countries are expected to participate in the 18th annual conference, which is one of the most prominent radiology events in Europe and according to the organizers is one of the largest scientific meetings in the world.

According to the European Network of Cancer Registries, breast cancer is the most common cancer among females in Europe and is estimated to be responsible for 18% of all cancer deaths in Europe.

The ComfortScan system is a near-infrared-based, non-invasive and non-ionizing imaging system designed to be used along with mammography to improve the diagnosis of breast cancer, by identifying tumor angiogenesis, or the growth of new blood vessels, often associated with cancer.

DOBI said it has distribution agreements in place in 16 countries, and several others pending. Its European distribution network includes the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Russia.

The ComfortScan system has CE-mark and UL designations, and DOBI Medical is an ISO-certified company.

More distributors for DiaSys

DiaSys (Waterbury, Connecticut) said it has signed three-year exclusive distribution agreements with Rochem Biocare for territories that cover Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Panama.

The agreements guarantee minimum orders of $1.46 million for the company's parasitology and urine sediment workstations and consumable products over the period covered by the agreement.

Jose Puig, sales manager, Latin America, for Diasys, said, "In addition to our recent agreement in Mexico and the award in Venezuela, these new transactions provide DiaSys with a network of capable, experienced diagnostic distributors in each market."

DiaSys manufactures laboratory equipment, consumables and infectious disease test-kits to healthcare and veterinary laboratories worldwide.