Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Inverness Medical Innovations (Waltham, Massachusetts), a manufacturer of rapid diagnostic products for the consumer and professional markets, reported that ITI Life Sciences, a Scottish economic and business development initiative, has agreed to provide it with $57 million over three years to partially fund R&D programs.

The programs will focus on identifying novel biomarkers and near-patient and home use tests for cardiovascular and other diseases.

Inverness will retain all rights to intellectual property arising out of the programs to the extent relevant to human healthcare, while ITI will acquire exclusive rights to the intellectual property for other uses.

As for specifically what types of cardiac diagnostic tests the company is studying, Director of Corporate Relations Doug Guarino told Diagnostics & Imaging Week, "We haven't given any specifics on that. We may speak to that later in the year. We do expect the first products, with a little wind at our back, to come out of that in '07."

Near-patient testing, which is the focus of the Inverness consumer and point-of-care businesses, is being used by clinicians and patients for the diagnosis and management of chronic conditions and offers benefits to both healthcare providers and patients.

Testing at home allows patients to monitor their disease and manage their condition more effectively. The global market for near-patient testing is estimated to be worth $3.3 billion and growing at around 8% per annum.

The funding from ITI will allow for expansion of Inverness' cardiology-related R&D efforts. Inverness said it has committed to invest $72 million of its planned R&D spending in the programs covered by this funding over the next three years.

Inverness said it will establish a new research center in Stirling, Scotland, named Stirling Medical Innovations, where it will consolidate many of it ongoing cardiology programs and ultimately commercialize products arising from the successful efforts of the research and development.

Guarino noted that the company had worked with the Scottish government already.

"We had a precedent there, and there was a track record," he said. "It all just came together nicely."

He added shortly afterward, "We think it's a great opportunity for us, and we're very happy about being back in Scotland where we had great success."

Ron Zwanziger, CEO of Inverness, said: "We are delighted to be setting up this exciting new venture which highlights our long-term commitment to the field of cardiology. The innovative products to be developed by Stirling Medical Innovations will substantially change patient management and lifestyle. Patients can increasingly have the choice of monitoring their health at home, significantly reducing the need for them to visit the hospital. Home-based testing in cardiology, in particular, offers exciting new opportunities to patients and Inverness Medical Innovations intends to lead the world in developing this category."

Inverness says it is exploring opportunities for its electrochemical systems and other technologies in a variety of applications.

In other grants/contracts news:

Washington Hospital Center (Washington) emergency medical workers can perform full-body scans in as little as 13 seconds with a new digital radiography system, enabling physicians to more quickly order the proper treatment.

The Statscan system at Washington Hospital Center is the fifth U.S. installation of the technology developed by Lodox Systems North America (South Lyon, Michigan). The Statscan is a flexible-format digital radiography system used for quick medical diagnoses in hospital trauma units and emergency departments. Its low-dose digital X-ray technology is capable of quickly providing high-resolution full-body imaging.

"In the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster occurring in the nation's capital, Washington Hospital Center must be prepared to handle large numbers of patients in its trauma and emergency facilities. The Statscan system is the type of cutting-edge technology that is needed to meet such challenges by playing a major role in the rapid and accurate detection of injuries," said Dennis Wang, MD, medical director of the hospital center's Trauma Services Division.

Washington Hospital Center is very much aware of its role as a first-line responder to terrorist incidents, as the most seriously injured patients from the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon were treated there. "Trauma care is all about time," said James Jelinek, MD, chairman of the radiology department. "When patients arrive, they need to be processed and diagnosed as quickly as possible. The Statscan's ability to rapidly diagnose patients allows our doctors to move them onto the next step in their treatment."

He added: "Statscan addresses patient-handling issues related to conventional X-ray technologies better than any radiographic technology we have ever used. Because [it] is 100% digital, it makes viewing and turnaround time for a diagnosis that much faster."

Lodox Systems North America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lodox System Pty Ltd. (Benmore, South Africa).