A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Royal Philips Electronics (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and RaySearch Laboratories (Stockholm, Swe-den) said they intend to expand their strategic relationship to develop advanced image-guided and adaptive radiation therapy solutions.

In collaboration since 2000, Philips and RaySearch now intend to sign a joint development agreement for an expanded relationship in image guided and adaptive radiation therapy, which involves a suite of advanced products. The companies already have a long-standing research collaboration in the field and are forming the multi-center Image-Guided Adaptive Radiotherapy (IGART) Consortium, to be led by Dr. David Jaffray of Princess Margaret Hospital (Toronto). The new joint development agreement will mark the beginning of a product phase of the alliance, at the same time the joint research will continue under the direction of the IGART Consortium.

"Adaptive radiation therapy will be the major development area in the future of radiation oncology," said Johan Lof, president and CEO of RaySearch. "This new technology plans to increase the geometrical precision by taking into account changes in the patient's anatomy during the actual treatment."

Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pennsylvania) reported that it would commit $1.5 million to the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (New York) to address what it termed "a major impediment" in the development of new technologies and cancer treatments — the shortage of physicians conducting translational research.

Thomas McCausland, president, Siemens Medical Solutions USA, said that new imaging technologies have led to a better understanding of how cancer develops "and promises to deliver an increasingly detailed look at the molecular events taking place when the very first cells become cancerous. Biomedical imaging of cancer patients has become essential to modern oncology practice; its usefulness will only increase as rapidly developing technologies make their way into practice."

McCausland noted Siemens' recent formation of a molecular imaging division as a way to intensify its focus "on detecting biological processes at these early stages of disease development, when intervention is more likely to succeed."

The Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award program involves selection of five awardees, each receiving a five-year $750,000 grant to support their salaries and research expenses. This support protects at least 80 percent of their time so they can focus on cutting-edge translational research. The award also includes payment of up to $100,000 of their outstanding medical school debt. To date, the program reports having invested more than $170 million in cancer research.

Lexicon Genetics (The Woodlands, Texas) reported being awarded $35 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund for the creation of a comprehensive knockout mouse embryonic stem cell library containing 350,000 cell lines.

Lexicon will create the library using its proprietary gene trapping technology for the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine (Houston), a newly formed non-profit institute whose founding members are Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), the Texas A&M University Sys-tem Health Science Center and Lexicon Genetics.

The Texas Enterprise Fund also has awarded $15 million to the Texas A&M University System (also College Station) for the creation of facilities and infrastructure to house the library.

When complete, the new library is expected to be the world's largest collection of mouse embryonic stem cells that have been engineered for the study of gene function, allowing researchers to identify which genes offer the most promise for future drug development.

Institute researchers may also access specific cells from Lexicon's current gene trap library of 270,000 mouse embryonic stem cell lines and will have certain rights to utilize Lexicon's patented gene targeting technologies. In addition, Lexicon will equip the Institute with the bioinformatics software required for the management and analysis of data relating to the library.

In other grants/contracts news:

E&C Medical Intelligence (New York), a provider of risk reduction and clinical quality improvement systems and services, reported that Banner Health (Phoenix), has signed an agreement to provide its Intelligent Patient Record for Obstetrics (IPROB), including its full risk reduction package, to the entire Banner system.

Used in nearly 80,000 births to date, IPROB has demonstrated statistical reductions in risk, the company said, and prevention of critical clinical errors in what is traditionally the highest medical liability risk area in healthcare.

Functioning as a complete intelligent OB chart for both physicians and nurses, the system proactively supports clinicians in attempting to help them provide the "highest level of care," the company said.

Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit healthcare systems in the country, operating 20 facilities in seven states that offer an array of services, including hospital care, home care, hospice care, nursing registries, surgery centers, laboratories and rehabilitation services.

It has facilities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.

Clarient (San Juan Capistrano, California), a cancer diagnostics services and technology company, and DakoCytomation (Glostrup, Denmark), a provider of cancer diagnostics and automated equipment, jointly reported a five-year distribution and development agreement. DakoCytomation will distribute Clarient's digital cellular imaging and analysis system, called the Chroma-vision Automated Cellular Imaging System (ACIS), as an adjunct to DakoCytomation's suite of automated diagnostics equipment.

The agreement, first unveiled June 9, enables Dako-Cytomation to begin distributing ACIS in North America in September and then expand globally, covering more than 70 countries.

The agreement also indicates that the companies will develop more advanced cancer diagnostics solutions and invest in the development of a next generation system.

Power3 Medical Products (The Woodlands, Texas) has entered into a research agreement with the Methodist Hospital Research Institute (Houston) to search for biomarkers and develop a suite of tests that directly impact the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.

Power3, in collaboration with Stan Appel, MD, chair of neurology at the Methodist Neurological Institute, has completed clinical validation, testing serum proteins from more than 600 patients, normal and neurodegenerative disease controls, including patients with Lou Gehrig's (ALS), Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Sentillion (Andover, Massachusetts), a provider of identity and access management solutions for healthcare, reported that Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH; Vancouver, British Columbia) has selected Sentillion's Vergence product suite to integrate information across its 556 locations, including acute, residential and community healthcare facilities.

Vergence is designed to enable clinical users to securely access patient information from any VCH facility, regardless of where the information is located.

The health authority will use Vergence for single-sign-on, single-patient selection and privacy auditing, with VCH using Vergence to provide role-based access.

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