A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

A group of New Zealand researchers has shown that by using a simple exhalation test using the NIOX Nitric Oxide Monitoring System developed by Aerocrine (Solna, Sweden), anti-inflammatory medication prescribed to asthmatics can be reduced by almost half and still keep asthma under control.

The test measures exhaled nitric oxide (eNO), which at elevated levels is an indicator of inflammation in asthma. NIOX measures exhaled NO both accurately and simply, Aerocrine said. The patient exhales into a mouthpiece and the eNO level is provided instantly, according to the company.

The company said the research findings, which were electronically published ahead of print in the New England Journal of Medicine, are likely to have a significant impact on the cost-effectiveness of asthma treatment, which consists largely of prescription anti-inflammatory medications such as inhaled corticosteroids.

Professor Robin Taylor of Dunedin, New Zealand, conducted the study with the objective of investigating the impact of adjusting patient dosage based upon either the level of airway inflammation or on other symptoms, which are not always closely correlated with inflammation levels.

In the study, 97 asthma patients in two groups were monitored and their inhaled corticosteroid treatment was adjusted according to either eNO measurements or asthma symptoms and guidelines-based indicators of asthma. The results showed that the dosage of inhaled corticosteroids necessary for asthma control was 40% lower for the group based on eNO measurements (a mean of 370 ug/day), while dosages of the group measured on other indicators was at a mean of 641 ug/day.

Trevor Bourke, president of Aerocrine (New York), the Swedish firm's U.S. subsidiary, said, "The study results show that the use of eNO measurements can bring the high cost of asthma management under control. We foresee an increased interest in eNO as a method to effectively manage asthma."

Aerocrine was founded in 1997 by scientists from the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden).

artus Gesellschaft to be acquired

Qiagen (Venlo, the Netherlands), which describes itself as the leading global provider of enabling technologies and products for the separation, purification and handling of nucleic acids and proteins, said that its Qiagen GmbH subsidiary has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire artus Gesellschaft (Hamburg, Germany).

artus GmbH specializes in the production of diagnostic kits based on DNA analytical procedures. The main focus of these detection procedures is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and real-time PCR technology, and the systems are mainly used in identifying infectious agents, in pharmacogenomics and in veterinary diagnostics.

The company was established by six scientists as a spin-off of the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg in 1998 with the intention to develop new procedures and products for pathogen diagnostics.

In November 2000, artus was the first laboratory that tested a cattle positive for bovine spongiforme encephalopathy ("mad cow" disease) in Germany.

artus also was the first company to sell a commercial amplification and detection system for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus during the SARS epidemic, doing so in April 2003.

East Africa sales office for Chembio

Chembio Diagnostics (Medford, New York) said it has established an East Africa sales office as part of a new strategic effort to market its rapid HIV test kits in countries that are part of the U.S. Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Dr. Jay Drosin was appointed to head the new office. He has 18 years of diversified leadership experience in Africa, including senior positions at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, the Medical Stores Department of the country of Tanzania and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

From 1990 to 1993, Drosin led social marketing efforts to promote condom usage as an HIV prevention measure in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and Ivory Coast for USAID and Population Services International. From 2003-2005, he was director of product promotion for IPAS, a North Carolina-based nonprofit organization working in reproductive health.

Avi Pelossof, Chembio's vice president for HIV international sales and marketing, said, "Now that treatment with antiretroviral drugs is becoming a reality in Africa, Jay is turning his attention and considerable marketing skills toward HIV rapid testing."

Chembio also said that it has retained Global Health Strategies (New York), an international consulting firm, to assist with marketing, communications and strategic positioning of the company.

Bone density screening data reported

CompuMed (Los Angeles) presented data comparing digital and standard film-based versions of its OsteoGram osteoporosis screening system at last month's 3rd International Conference on Bone and Mineral Research in Xijan, China.

The conference, organized by the International Osteoporosis Foundation, is one of the world's largest gatherings of researchers focused on improving osteoporosis diagnostics, treatment and prevention.

CompuMed President Jerry McLaughlin and Vice President of Technology Xiaoli Bi presented data on a study titled, "A CAD Bone Mineral Density Assessment Application for DICOM-Compliant Platforms." The study compared diagnostic results achieved with CompuMed's DICOM (Digital Communications and Imaging in Medicine) compliant OsteoGram system against those achieved with the company's standard film-based system. The DICOM results were found to correlate highly with the film-based version, which has been used successfully for nearly 10 years to test osteoporosis on more than 130,000 patients worldwide.

"The results of the study suggest that the far more efficient DICOM OsteoGram performs bone mass density assessment without sacrificing quality or reliability," said McLaughlin.

He said the expanding Chinese market for digital X-ray equipment "provides many excellent opportunities to bundle [our] software-based system with rapidly proliferating DICOM imaging platforms."

CompuMed introduced the DICOM-based OsteoGram to the Chinese market in April 2004.