Group purchasing organization AmeriNet (St. Louis, Missouri) has renewed its immunoassay agreement with Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, California). The three-year contract, valued at $60 million, became effective June 1. The renewal includes pricing agreements for Beckman Coulter's entire line of immunoassay systems, test kits, supplies and services. Included in the agreement is the new UniCel DxI 800 Access immunoassay system, which began shipping in June and performs up to 400 tests per hour, the highest throughput of any random-access immunoassay system on the market today, the company said. The agreement also covers the Access AccuTnI cardiac troponin I test, designed to help physicians diagnose and assess cardiac patients, and the Hybritech free PSA test, used to distinguish prostate cancer from benign prostatic conditions.

Amersham Biosciences (Piscataway, New Jersey), the life sciences business of Amersham, and Geneva Bioinformatics SA (GeneBio; Geneva, Switzerland) have signed an exclusive agreement to provide researchers with the next generation of 2-D gel image analysis tools for proteomics research. The collaboration will entail the integration of the Melanie 2-D Gel Analysis Software, developed by the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), into the ImageMaster image analysis software platform from Amersham Biosciences. This integrated 2-D image analysis software will be available from Amersham Biosciences with the new release of ImageMaster. Under the agreement, future imaging software will be collaboratively developed utilizing the strengths of Amersham Biosciences, GeneBio, the SIB and the Melanie backbone. The agreement expands the strategic alliance between the two companies signed in January to develop and distribute novel proteomics analysis software, databases and training tools.

Media Cybernetics (Silver Spring, Maryland), a provider of analytical image analysis software, reported an agreement with Olympus Optical Co. (Tokyo), for distribution of its Image-Pro family software and Evolution line of scientific digital cameras into the People's Republic of China. The agreement allows Olympus Optical's extensive sales channel in China to combine Media Cybernetics imaging products with Olympus' line of life science microscopes. The companies said the partnership will allow them to extend their microscopy and imaging expertise into the maturing scientific imaging market in China. Media Cybernetics develops image informatics solutions to automate research, development and quality control processes in life science and industry.

Pulsion Medical Systems AG (Munich, Germany), a life science company specializing in medical diagnosis and therapy systems, and Philips Medical Systems (Andover, Massachusetts), a market leader in patient monitoring systems, have changed their previous worldwide exclusive strategic alliance for marketing the PiCCO Technology in a non-exclusive alliance. With the change, the PiCCO Technology now can also be integrated in monitoring systems of other manufacturers. The aim of the strategic alliance between Philips and Pulsion was to drive forward the use of the less-invasive PiCCO Technology as a better alternative to the risky right heart catheter for hemodynamic management of severely ill patients as fast as possible. The companies said revenues remained below expectations, leading to the reworking of the agreement.

QRS Diagnostic (Plymouth, Minnesota), a developer of software-based medical devices contained in computer cards, and Sunlight Medical (Somerset, New Jersey), a manufacturer of high-technology medical devices, said they have extended the scope of their international cooperative technology agreement to the U.S. Under the agreement, QRS and Sunlight have adapted the software components of their products so that QRS PC Card devices function on Sunlight's Omnisense bone sonometry units. The compatible device technologies, which have been marketed to physicians in Europe and Asia since January, now are available to physicians in the U.S. Sunlight Omnisense 7000S and 8000S are high-end bone assessment devices that detect osteoporosis and assess fracture risk. Currently, three QRS devices are compatible with Sunlight's Omnisense: Universal ECG, a 12-channel diagnostic electrocardiograph; SpiroCard, a software-based spirometer that measures the volume and velocity of airflow from the lungs and provides real-time graphical results; and SpirOxCard, the only combination spirometer/pulse oximeter contained in one computer card.

R2 Technology (Sunnyvale, California), which focuses on computer-aided detection (CAD) and visualization for breast cancer and other cancers, entered into a one-year, sole-source contract with Health Management Associates (HMA; Naples, Florida). HMA, an operator of acute-care hospitals in the Southeast and Southwest regions of the U.S., is contracting with R2 to provide the ImageChecker CAD system with OmniCAD technology to HMA-owned hospitals for the earlier detection of breast cancer. The contract is a standardization option within the R2 contract with HealthTrust Purchasing Group (HPG; Nashville, Tennessee). HMA, which joined HealthTrust Purchasing Group in July 2000, calls itself the largest operator of non-urban acute care hospitals in residential communities. It has 46 hospitals in 15 states.