A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) will initiate a national bowel cancer screening program in England, beginning in April of next year. It is the first time such a program will operate in England and one of the first of its kind in Europe.

Under the program, which will cost 37.5 million in its first two years of operation, men and women 60 to 69 years of age will be screened every two years. Home testing kits will be sent to around 2 million people in the target group each year. After conducting the tests in the home, the participants then will send the fecal occult blood (FOB) test kits back to a laboratory for analysis.

People aged 70 and over will be provided with a FOB test kit on request.

The screening program will be phased in gradually over a three-year period, giving the NHS time to prepare and allocate resources. It is anticipated that around 25% of England will be covered by the end of 2006-2007. Another 25% will begin in 2007-2008, with the final 50% beginning in 2008-2009.

Five program hubs, including testing laboratories, will be set up for analyzing the kits. Strategic Health Authorities will bid to provide the first wave of local screening centers. The NHS Cancer Screening Program will begin the procurement exercises for the five program hubs and the first year’s supply of testing kits later in the summer.

Julietta Patnick, director of NHS Cancer Screening Program, said, “Early detection is crucial to lowering the number of deaths from bowel cancer and a screening program will play a vital role in achieving this.”

Bowel cancer is the second-largest cause of cancer deaths in the UK, with around 30,000 new cases each year. In 2003, more than 16,000 people died from the disease.

In unveiling the plans for the program, Health Minister Rosie Winterton said, “The NHS has already made significant progress in reducing deaths from bowel cancer, with mortality rates falling by 17% over the last 10 years. The roll-out of the national screening program will help save even more lives.”

She added: “Because of the nature of the disease, people can feel uncomfortable talking about it, let alone coping with the symptoms. That is why the privacy . . . that the home testing kits afford will help us better tackle the disease.”

Winterton noted that although bowel cancer affects more than one in 20 people in their lifetime, “of those who get the disease 90% survive if it is caught early.”

Hilary Whittaker, chief executive of the national charity Beating Bowel Cancer, said, “Bowel cancer is a huge disease in this country, killing almost 50 people every day, and we believe that the screening program will be a positive step in reducing the number of deaths from this cancer, as well as raising awareness of bowel cancer amongst the general public.”

Another Asian distributor for Biofield system

Bridgetech Holdings International (Solana Beach, California) said that in partnership with Biofield (Alpharetta, Georgia), it is to begin testing, marketing and distributing the Biofield Breast Proliferation Detection System (BDS) in the Asian markets of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam and Singapore.

Michael Chermak, president and CEO of Bridgetech, said the BDS is “a leap forward in detection and will be an invaluable tool in the widespread screening of this terrible disease.” He said the Biofield system “is uniquely suited for Asian women and should be much more effective in detection than existing exams.”

David Long Jr. MD, PhD, chairman and CEO of Biofield, said, “We feel we have found the right strategic partner to distribute and market our product in China and other Asian countries where we are not already positioned.”

He noted that the Bridgetech contract research organization, established in conjunction with Johns Hopkins International, is the ideal location to initiate clinical trials in order to obtain SFDA [China’s State Food and Drug Administration] approval for our system. This is a great opportunity for application of our innovative technology for saving women’s lives.”

The Breast Proliferation Detection System a non-invasive system that, according to the company, delivers “ob-jective results that may be helpful in the early detection of epithelial abnormalities, including abnormal proliferation or growth activities in breast tissues.”

The use of the BDS, it added, “may distinguish those lesions likely to progress and cause significant disease. The BDS may reduce physician and patient uncertainty as well as decrease the number of diagnostic procedures performed on suspicious breast lesions.”

mtm establishes U.S. subsidiary

mtm laboratories AG (Heidelberg, Germany), a dev-eloper of diagnostic products for the early detection of cancer, has established a U.S. subsidiary in Westborough, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb.

Robert Silverman will serve as president of the wholly owned subsidiary, mtm laboratories Inc. Silverman has provided management consulting services to mtm for the past 18 months through his company, RS Consulting. Prior to forming RS Consulting, Silverman served as senior vice president of commercial operations for ViaCell. From 1996-2001, he held various senior executive positions with Cytyc, including vice president of international and vice president of marketing.

The subsidiary will focus on business development and marketing of mtm’s biomarker-based products in the U.S. and is expected to increase the company’s presence and strategic position in what it characterized as “the largest single market for products in the area of cancer screening and diagnosis.”

Privately held mtm was founded in 1999 as a spin-off of the German Cancer Research Center. Its focus is on cervical cancer screening, the largest screening market in oncology.

In vitro diagnostic products that apply mtm’s CINtec technology to cervical biopsies (the CINtec p16INK4a Histology Kit) and cytology preparations (CINtec p16INK4a Cytology Kit) of the cervix uteri were launched recently in Europe and the U.S. by DakoCytomation (Glastrup, Den-mark), the company’s distribution partner.

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