A Medical Device Daily

Inserm-Transfert, the venture capital subsidiary of France's National Institute for Health and Medical Research, 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 extended 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 heath 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 Dép 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.

Additional office in Japan for EDAP

EDAP TMS (Lyon, France) has opened a new office in Sapporo, Japan, which it said is part of its “growing presence“ in Asia, with established offices in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

The company makes the Ablatherm-HIFU device for high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) treatment of localized prostate cancer. EDAP TMS also is developing that technology for the treatment of certain other types of tumors. It also produces equipment for treatment of urinary tract stones using extra-corporeal shockwave lithotripsy.

Mark Abela, CEO of the company's Japanese subsidiary, said the opening of the new office in northern Japan “opens new doors for greater coverage of the Japanese territory.“ He added, “Our goal in Japan is to continue to establish a robust distribution network throughout the country . . . [to] provide the right foundation for our business in Japan.“

In addition, EDAP reported the naming of Julien Laronze as vice president of the Japanese subsidiary. He previously was sales director at EDAP's headquarters in France. In his new role, he will assist with the approval process for new lines of products in that country.

The company said it has an installed base of more than 200 urology devices in Japan, part of what it term “a diversified product portfolio of minimally invasive medical devices“ in additional Asian countries.

Hugues de Bantel, CEO of EDAP-TMS, said, “With our strengthened Japanese base, we are now structured to develop our business in Japan and Asia by integrating additional products into our catalog.“ He said the company plans to leverage its established distribution network “to deliver additional medical technologies the market demands.“

Bantel cited EDAP's reputation as “a reliable, service-oriented provider,“ saying that has “opened the door to deliver other minimally invasive solutions, furthering our growth opportunities beyond markets we already serve.“

Aussie firm broadens test effort

Ambri Ltd. (Sydney, Australia) has reported additional details about its recently announced program to develop a rapid diagnostic test chip for human respiratory infections, including a test for avian flu.

The company has shown in a laboratory test bed system that three different assays can be performed simultaneously on its current biosensor chip configuration. It said the new chip configuration is on an inexpensive plastic base and fits the existing laboratory test bed reader developed by Ambri.

The common flu A (influenza type A) was one of the tests demonstrated in the company's 16-sensor diagnostic test chip.

Ambri said it is extending the ICS biosensor chip development program to include avian influenza type H5N1. The near-term objective of the strategy, it said, is to develop a prototype of a chip that would be the basis of a product to simultaneously detect in a nasal or throat swab the presence of any one of three influenza viral types.

“These viral infections all begin with very similar symptoms,“ Ambri said, “and it is important to rapidly distinguish serious infections such as bird flu from common influenza such as flu A or flu B.“

CEO Roman Zwolenski said: “Progressing down this development path with multiple 'yes' or 'no' tests on the same chip gives Ambri the best chance of attracting a commercial partner to incorporate the ICS biosensor technology in a marketable product.“

Ambri said it intends to use a new 16-sensor ICS configuration for the triple-test respiratory diagnostic chip, which it expects to be able to gold-imprint and fully assemble in house.

“This gives us flexibility to advance quickly with the product prototyping,“ Zwolenski said.

600th LightSpeed VCT for GE

GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) said recently that it has reached the 600th global installation of its LightSpeed VCT, the world's first volume computed tomography (CT) system. The company said the LightSpeed VCT is the fastest-selling product in its history.

The 600th global shipment of VCT will be received by Akita University, one of the largest universities in the Tohoku region in Japan. The university will install both the LightSpeed VCT and LightSpeed VCT Select.

GE Healthcare said cardiac CT has been recognized as one of the biggest breakthroughs in healthcare.

LightSpeed VCT clinical applications include:

  • 5-Beat Cardiac, which the company calls “a comprehensive view of the heart and coronary arteries with submillimeter resolution in five seconds.“ It said this coverage helps reduce beat-to-beat variability, “resulting in more robust, repeatable procedures, as well as greater vessel visualization and shorter breath holds for sick patients.“
  • Triple Rule-Out, the ability to help clinicians rule out (or in) the three most life-threatening critical conditions in chest pain – aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism and coronary artery disease – in a single scan.
  • Stroke WorkUp, the ability to dynamically acquire both anatomy and perfusion/blood flow to the brain in a single scan.

GE Healthcare said 34 of its VCT systems have been delivered to medical sites in Japan to date.

Beijing Vision to represent Coronado in China

Coronado Industries (Fountain Hills, Arizona), developer of pneumatic devices for the non-invasive treatment of glaucoma through its wholly owned Ophthalmic International subsidiary, has reached agreement with Beijing Vision World Trading Co. Ltd. to represent the company in China.

Under this exclusive agreement, signed last month, Beijing Vision has begun to obtain the necessary registration and licenses to enable Coronado's Pneumatic Trabeculoplasty (PNT) device to be sold in China.

Richard Smith, chairman of Coronado Industries, said the agreement calls for the Beijing company to be responsible for all costs of bringing the PNT product to market, while Coronado will continue to own all registrations, trademarks and patents pertaining to PNT. “This marks a major step forward in our international marketing program to bring PNT to open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertensive patients throughout the world,“ he said.

Smith said that China represents a huge market, probably the largest single glaucoma market in the world. Amy Li, the senior vice president of marketing for Beijing Vision, said that there is “great demand“ throughout China for an alternative treatment to invasive surgery. “We believe that Coronado's PNT technology has considerable potential and will provide a thoroughly economic alternative treatment for glaucoma in Chinese cities and villages alike.“

MSI reports Middle East HIV test orders

Medical Services International (MSI; Edmonton, Alberta) said it received orders for 1.5 million VScan HIV test kits from two Middle East countries as a result of its participation in the Dubai Medical Conference. It said those orders would generate revenue of approximately $3.5 million U.S. over the next 15 months.

MSI said it is to deliver the test kits in 12 equal orders over a period of one year, starting May 1. It added that its distributor in the Middle East is negotiating with several other countries and expects to receive additional orders that will be in excess of 1 million HIV test kits.

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