A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

GE Healthcare (Waukesha, Wisconsin) reported signing an exclusive agreement with IntraMedical Imaging (Los Angeles), a developer of molecular imaging detectors and cameras, to provide advanced tools for surgeons to localize tumors and lymph nodes during cancer surgery. The announcement was made at the recent Society of Surgical Oncology's 58th Cancer Symposium in Atlanta.

The new product line consists of a universal control unit, called Node Seeker, and a dedicated set of detection probes. Surgical oncologists use these specialized radiation detection probes to identify sentinel lymph nodes, presently a standard of care technique for staging breast cancer and melanoma. GE will be the exclusive U.S. distributor of Node Seeker, developed by IntraMedical Imaging.

"Our new relationship with IntraMedical Imaging will enable us to help clinicians more accurately detect and stage cancer and, in turn, improve patient outcomes," said Lewis Dudley, leader of the surgery unit at GE Healthcare. "With this new guidance tool, the surgical oncologist will have more information during surgery."

The Node Seeker gamma probe is a tool used to determine whether the cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor by identifying affected sentinel nodes in the nearby lymph node basin. During surgery, these nodes are removed and taken to pathology to determine if the cancer has metastasized in the lymph nodes. This technique frequently precludes the complications associated with more radical surgical procedures.

GE Healthcare also will be the exclusive distributor of IntraMedical Imaging's PET-Probe. Those radiation detection probes utilize the power of PET (positron emission tomography) in surgery. With this scan guidance, surgeons can more precisely identify and excise the lesion as well as surgical margins for small amounts of remaining tumor, the company said.

In other agreement news

Competitive Technologies (CTT; Fairfield, Connecticut), a technology transfer and licensing provider, and Genchem (Dana Point, California) reported that a homocysteine patent license has been granted to Genchem under CTT's U.S. patent No. 4,940,658 and its foreign counterparts relating to homocysteine medical tests.

Paul Levitsky, CTT's vice president and general counsel, said, "In line with our policy of enforcing the patent rights of CTT and its clients, we look forward to working with Genchem and all other companies involved with homocysteine testing."

"The homocysteine assay is a rapidly growing clinical test whose diagnostic importance is affirmed by a multitude of scientific publications," said Patricia Gaull, GenChem's president. "We are excited to offer laboratories a new fully licensed homocysteine assay which can be run on chemistry analyzers. With CTT's licensed homocysteine assay, clinical laboratories now not only have peace of mind from patent infringement, but also the ability to perform this assay on instruments that are up to 10 times faster than conventional immunochemistry platforms. Today's laboratory customers are concerned with intellectual property rights and want to purchase legally licensed products without concern of patent infringement."

Genchem was granted a license to the CTT technology and will pay royalties on sales of Genchem's homocysteine assays. Genchem's homocysteine assay customers will be covered by the Genchem license from CTT. Genchem customers such as hospital and commercial laboratories that may have separate homocysteine licenses from CTT will be relieved of their obligation to pay royalties on reportable homocysteine results obtained using the GENCHEM assay by virtue of the royalty paid by Genchem to CTT.

CTT said it has signed license agreements and is collecting royalties from companies performing the majority of homocysteine assays in the marketplace.