A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Medical Care Corp. (MCC; Irvine, California), a provider of diagnostic tools that enable professionals to detect early-stage memory loss, reported reaching agreements that will mark its expansion into Japan.

Licensing agreements have been signed with three Japanese healthcare companies Toyaku, Saint-Care and Millennia, giving them rights to commercialize MCC's technology to deliver what the U.S. firm characterized as "a comprehensive range of dementia-care services," including prevention, early detection, accurate diagnosis and care management.

MCC's electronic Dementia Care System gathers, organizes and synthesizes patient and treatment information so that healthcare providers are equipped to provide care at the highest possible level. It said its Mental Skills Test is "the most sensitive tool available for the detection of early stage memory loss."

The company said each of the firms to which it has licensed its technology is "uniquely positioned to address a specific segment of the Japanese market."

Toyaku, for instance, is a rapidly growing company whose retail pharmacy chains provide what MCC said is "an extensive array of prevention and lifestyle counseling services for patients."

Publicly traded Saint-Care operates the third-largest home healthcare service in Japan and Millennia is "a pioneer in medical data management and objective measurement of treatment efficacy," MCC said.

The companies will use MCC technologies to expand existing services into cognitive health with what it termed "the aim of raising the standard of care in the dementia field."

Dennis Fortier, MCC president and CEO, said, "The higher average life expectancy in Japan, coupled with a prevention-oriented public healthcare system, make Japan an attractive market for [our] technology."

He said that, while research into new Alzheimer's treatments is essential, "many patients can be helped immediately if healthcare providers have the tools to ensure early detection of a problem followed by an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment of any underlying medical conditions."

DiaSys in Mexican distribution agreement

Global diagnostics products firm DiaSys (Waterbury, Connecticut) said it has entered into an agreement with Grupo Mex Lab, a distributor of diagnostics products, to distribute its products in Mexico. Grupo Mex, founded 10 years ago, has offices in Guadalajara and Mexico City and a network of 300 distributors throughout the country.

The distribution agreement is expected to allow DiaSys to offer its parasite tests to both the private lab sector and public social security administration. The reimbursed value of the market for such tests is estimated at about $140 million.

Jose Puig, DiaSys sales manager for Latin America, said, "The Mexican market represents a significant opportunity for us. Based upon Grupo Mex Lab's large distribution network and significant demand for parasite testing among both the public and private sectors, there exists a significant opportunity to grow sales rapidly."

He added that the company thinks the distribution agreement "will allow us to offer a complete line of rapid tests and ELISA kits, through the recently announced agreement to acquire Biocheck and Evernew Biotech, as Grupo Mex Lab is a provider of rapid diagnostic tests to the Mexican government as well as the country's armed forces."

The Mexican Institute of Social Security and the Social Security Institute for State Workers perform 26 million parasite tests annually, while the private sector performs an additional 2 million such tests a year. The reimbursement for a parasite test in the country is approximately $5 per test, Diasys said.

The company previously entered into distribution agreements with Tecnodiagnostica, the largest distributor of clinical diagnostic products in Costa Rica, and Repreclin, a large clinical diagnostics distributor based in Venezuela.

Poland licenses dioxin-screening technology

Xenobiotic Detection Systems (XDS; Durham, North Carolina) said its XDS Calux technology has been selected by the government of Poland as a screening tool for detection of chemical contamination of the food supply.

This is the first licensing of XDS's dioxin detection technology to Poland and the third license in the European Union for the firm.

Dr. Tadeusz Wijaszka, director of the National Veterinary Research Institute (Pulawy, Poland), signed the licensing agreement to use the Calux bioassay for the detection of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds.

Recently in the news because of the dioxin poisoning of Ukranian president-elect Viktor Yushchenko, dioxins are toxic compounds routinely found in trace amounts in the environment. However, according to XDS, they can bio-accumulate and be concentrated in the food supply, leading to human exposure. The company said dioxins are known to cause birth defects, tumors, immunotoxicity and death.

Two Polish scientists, Drs. Sylwia Stypula-Trebas and Pawel Trebas, will spend a month training at XDS headquarters before returning to Poland to meet with XDS staff later this spring for the laboratory installation and validation.

XDS has genetically engineered mammalian cell lines to contain the gene for luciferase, an enzyme fireflies use to produce light. In the Calux process, firefly luciferase is produced when dioxin-like chemicals are present. The amount of light produced is directly related to the amount of dioxin-like chemicals.

Using patented separation techniques, it is possible to additionally differentiate between dioxin and PCB contamination.

Development of the Calux technology was supported by Small Business Innovation Research grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Bethesda, Maryland).

micro-Slide product line is launched

ibidi (Munich, Germany), a supplier of solutions for biomicroscopy, has launched micro-Slides (µ-Slides), a novel product line that allows cell culturing and high-resolution microscopy on the same slide. The company said the high optical quality of the µ Slides allows their use for cell-based assays in research and high-throughput applications.

The µ-Slides can be used for all fluorescence-based techniques and in combination with phase contrast, DIC and confocal microscopy, ibidi said. The slides are designed to handle cell or tissue samples in parallel. The setup of µ-Slide 18-well allows mounting of 18 different samples and facilitates washing and staining steps. Optimal cell growth conditions are preserved while minimizing the consumption of reagents.

ibidi said the total costs of bioimaging assays can substantially cut and protocols for immunofluorescence and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) are facilitated significantly.

µ-Slides are available in eight different formats, including what the company said is the first commercially available disposable perfusion devices.

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