A Medical Device Daily

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).

UK aims for better use of GPs' time

A new UK campaign aimed at freeing general practitioners (GPs) from unnecessary paperwork, launched late last year, has a goal of allowing them to spend more time with their patients.

The focus primarily is on informing patients that they don't need their GPs to countersign passport applications or issue certificates of absence for short-term sick leave, tasks that GPs have not been required to undertake for some years.

The problem is that many in the public — apparently a majority, according to the Department of Health — are still unaware that other professions can countersign passport applications and that “self-certification“ of absences of less than seven days is allowed.

Posters are being made available to every GP practice in the country aimed at informing patients that they don't need their GP to handle such matters. Reducing the burden on GPs is especially important in the winter period, the National Health Service (NHS) said, with demand for appointments high.

In announcing the new effort, Health Minister Lord Warner said, “Doctors should be spending their time treating patients, not doing unnecessary paperwork. GPs have told us about their frustrations in having to fulfill tasks that they need not have to undertake.“

One poster advises that more than 40 other professions — including post office officials, ministers, social workers, teachers and bank and building society staff — can countersign passport applications.

Mike Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, said, “It is important that GPs' time is best spent looking after patients rather than filling in forms. These posters will be an important means of making the public aware of how they can help their GP and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy. These posters represent the beginning of a crucial process to get the best out of our GPs, and inform patients about how they can help their GP give them a better service.“

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-Slides 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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