Affymetrix (Santa Clara, California), developer of the world's first microarray, reported the launch of the new GeneChip Globin-Reduction kits and associated protocol developed in conjunction with PreAnalytiX (Hombrechtikon, Switzerland), a joint venture between Qiagen (Venlo, the Netherlands) and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Co.; Franklin Lakes, New Jersey) formed to develop integrated systems for the collection, stabilization and purification of nucleic acids for molecular diagnostic testing. The new kits optimize the PreAnalytiX PAXgene Blood RNA System for use with Affymetrix GeneChip technology and improve gene expression profile results of cellular RNA extracted from whole blood. The combination of the GeneChip Blood RNA Concentration Kit (featuring the PAXgene Blood RNA System) and the GeneChip Globin-Reduction RNA Controls standardizes all the steps of whole blood RNA processing. Use of the Globin-Reduction Protocol and associated reagent kits enables researchers to detect subtle changes in gene expression by reducing the overwhelming amounts of globin messenger RNA (mRNA) present in whole blood. Counteracting the effects of globin mRNA during target preparation significantly increases assay sensitivity on GeneChip arrays.

Carl Zeiss Meditec (Dublin, California) reported commercial availability for its VISUCAMlite to capture digital images of the retina and posterior segment of the eye, which assists in the diagnosis and documentation of retinal diseases and glaucoma. The VISUCAMlite offers the capability to electronically capture and display photographs of the retina. Color, red-free and fluorescein angiography are the standard still-capture modes. VISUCAMlite also offers a black and white video capture feature. VISUCAMlite offers multiple ways to capture structural changes of the retina and posterior segment of the eye, providing a full-spectrum approach to diagnosis and documentation of retinal diseases and glaucoma. With advanced Zeiss optics, VISUCAMlite provides enhanced comfort for patients. The camera also provides maximum convenience for practices, as they are DICOM conformant and capable of exporting images in a variety formats via a practice's network or the accompanying CD burner.

Dade Behring (Deerfield, Illinois) reported that it has received FDA 510(k) clearance for the Emit II Plus Ec-stasy Assay, the company's rapid screening method for use in detecting the presence of Ecstasy in human urine. The assay screens urine for methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, or Ecstasy), methylenedioxyethylamphetamine and methylenedioxyamphetamine. It complies with proposed SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and European regulations, and has approved applications for use on the Olympus AU400/ AU600/AU2700/AU5400 systems and the Syva 30R Analyzer. Availability on the Viva-E and V-Twin drug testing systems is expected in April, with other open chemistry systems to follow. The Emit II Plus Ecstasy Assay, Dade Behring's newest addition to the Syva drugs-of-abuse testing menu, meets laboratory demand for an Ecstasy-specific test that includes a 500 ng/mL cutoff level, the company said. The new assay is intended to be used as a stand-alone test or in conjunction with the Emit II Plus Amphetamines Assay, which detects MDMA at higher levels than does this new Ecstasy-specific test. The Emit II Plus Ecstasy Assay is a convenient, ready-to-use liquid assay based on the "gold standard" Emit II Plus chemistry, and reagents are offered in two kit sizes to accommodate both low and high-volume laboratories.

FEI (Hillsboro, Oregon) reported the launch of its new scanning/transmission electron microscope (S/TEM), the Titan 80-300, dedicated to corrected microscopy. The new S/TEM system yields atomic-scale imaging with resolution below 0.7 Angstrom. The Titan 80-300 is designed as a dedicated and upgradeable, aberration-corrected system that will enable corrector and monochromator technology to enter into mainstream nanotechnology research and industrial markets. The Titan S/TEM system features unparalleled overall stability to break the 1-Angstrom barrier, FEI said. Corrector upgrades can be added for higher resolution, extending the point resolution down to the information limit for accurate interpretation of atomic structures. The system will be fully available for demonstrations after Titan's official launch at the 2005 Microscopy and Microanalysis meeting in Honolulu in August.

Mediscience Technology (Cherry Hill, New Jersey) said that it is in development of an adjunctive instrument, called the Cancer Detection Map (CD-Map), to facilitate the acquisition of fluorescence images from surgical breast specimens following lumpectomies and surgical procedures. The instrument will be used to define the margins of tumors at the point-of-care, allowing the physician to achieve clear margins in real time during cancer surgery without the use of invasive agents. The CD-Map is highly sensitive and can acquire images in less than one second. Zoom capability allows the CD-Map to acquire images over an area that can vary from sub-centimeters to several centimeters with a resolution better than 100 mm. The CD-Map is a UV/visible fluorescence imaging system designed to gain image emission from native fluorophors in tissue. A tunable light source and movable filters permit the acquisition of images at multiple combinations of emission and excitation wavelengths. Intensity ratio maps are computer generated from the fluorescence images and either the intensity images or pseudo-color ratio images are displayed.

Novadaq Technologies (Toronto) said that data on a 106-patient randomized clinical trial of its Spy Intra-operative Imaging System was presented at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery meeting in San Francisco. The study was designed to compare the diagnostic accuracy of two competing technologies that verify the quality of bypass grafts constructed during coronary artery bypass surgery. Intra-operative graft angiography with the Spy System involves intravascular administration of fluorescent indocyanine green dye and visualization of the graft with dispersed laser light. Transit Time Ultrasound Flow Measurement (TTF), the most commonly used form of intra-operative graft quality verification, uses an intra-operative ultrasound probe to measure flow value and pattern. In the study, 139 bypass grafts were examined with the Spy System and TTF. The primary endpoint was to compare the ability of each system to correctly identify grafts with problems using standard X-ray angiography as the "gold standard." The study showed the Spy System demonstrated superior diagnostic accuracy and was able to correctly identify 58% more bypass grafts with technical problems than TTF, the company reported.

SmartPill (Buffalo, New York), developer of the SmartPill Capsule, a non-invasive, ingestible device that captures biomedical data from within a patient's GI tract, reported that 510(k) clinical trials of its SmartPill ACT-I Capsule and GI Monitoring System are set to begin at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), bringing to three the number of sites participating in the SmartPill clinical trial. A total of 25 subjects, 15 of whom are healthy and 10 who have been documented with gastroparesis (the inability of the stomach to empty) are expected to participate in the study. The primary objective of the study is to demonstrate the correlation between the gastric residence times measured by the SmartPill ACT-I Capsule and by the ingestion of a radio-labeled meal and scintigraphic images.

Varian (Palo Alto, California) said its Salt Tolerant Cold Probe yields more than 20% higher sensitivity in salty samples that mimic physiological conditions. At higher salt concentrations, the sensitivity gain can be even greater, as much as 40%. The Salt Tolerant Cold Probe initially is geared for 500 MHz and 600 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers. The Salt Tolerant Cold Probe retains all the features and benefits of a standard cold probe, including three to four times more sensitivity than a room temperature probe. The Salt Tolerant Cold Probe and cryogenic systems are compatible with the company's new Varian NMR System and are currently available for order.

Whatman (Florham Park, New Jersey), a leader in separations technology, reported the launch of the EasyClone 384 plate, a single, versatile device to replace the existing workflows currently used by genomics institutes and laboratories. The EasyClone 384 plate can be used for the archiving, shipping and purifying of clones - all at room temperature. Customers can now use integrated biosample management systems from GenVault (San Diego) to manage the EasyClone 384 plates. GenVault's systems provide compact stacking and storage of thousands of plates as well as easy access to individual samples through robotic automation and complimentary software. The company said EasyClone 384 provides a simple way of storing clone samples and eliminates the need for current storage back-up methods and facilities that ultimately rely on power supplies.