Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, Illinois) has signed a two-year, $60 million supply agreement with Quest Diagnostics (Teterboro, New Jersey) for Abbott to provide Quest with immunoassay tests and systems for cardiac conditions, therapeutic drug monitoring, hepatitis and cancer. In addition, Quest will use Abbott's PSA (prostate-specific antigen) and homocysteine assays. Abbott's homocysteine test, introduced in 1998, is the first automated test to measure levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Abbott's PSA assay is a leading blood test to allow for the early detection and management of prostate cancer. Thomas Heller, vice president, national accounts for Abbott, said, "Abbott will benefit from Quest's network of laboratories and patient service centers across the country." Quest said the agreement "supports our initiatives involving the integration and standardization of our nationwide network of 40 major laboratories and1,400 conveniently located patient service centers."

Axis-Shield plc (Dundee, United Kingdom) has signed a distribution agreement for its heart disease test with Diagnostic Products (DP; Los Angeles, California). DP will market Axis-Shield's test for the chemical homocysteine – a marker in heart disease – on its immunoassay platforms. Axis-Shield signed an earlier agreement for homocysteine with German drugs and chemicals group Bayer AG .

Collateral Therapeutics (San Diego, California) signed an agreement with the University of Texas' Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas, Texas) for an exclusive worldwide license to certain human genes discovered at the university that could potentially be used for gene therapies to treat heart disease. In exchange, Collateral will give the university undisclosed license and royalty fees from any drugs developed from the technology and sponsor gene discovery research in heart muscle regeneration, led by Dr. Eric Olson, a cardiac researcher. The research will focus on the discovery and characterization of certain genes that may improve heart muscle function and reduce changes that can occur after a heart attack.

GE Medical Systems Information Technologies (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) has expanded its agreement with CardioDynamics International (San Diego, California ) to distribute CardioDynamics' to hospitals and physician offices in Japan through GE Marquette Medical Systems-Japan. The companies' current agreements provide GE Medical Systems Information Technologies with rights to market and sell BioZ systems to hospitals in the U.S. and select international markets. Additionally, the companies are jointly developing and integrating CardioDynamics' BioZ Impedance Cardiography (ICG) technology into GE Medical Systems Information Technologies' Solar patient monitoring systems. The currently is available in over 70 international markets. "CardioDynamics' proprietary technology is an innovative and cost-effective solution that fulfills our customers' need for noninvasive cardiac monitoring," said Kevin King, vice president and global general manager of clinical systems, GE Medical Systems Information Technologies. Michael Perry, CEO of CardioDynamics, estimated Japan's health care market at $200 billion annually, and said the "can help Japan's medical community in battling heart disease, its second leading cause of death, while improving patient outcomes and reducing costs."

LifeLink Monitoring (Bedford, New Hampshire), developer of BPLink, the first home blood pressure telemonitoring service, has selected, an application service provider for mid-sized businesses, to host its e-business applications. LifeLink said the company had looked at more than 50 ASPs during its evaluation process, adding, " clearly demonstrated the ability to understand our unique application requirements and business needs." BPLink enables patients to monitor their blood pressure at home and send complete reports of their readings to their doctors by telephone or the Internet without a home computer. The Managed Operations service includes secure, 24 x 7 application availability, systems engineering, network management and 24-hour help-desk support.

Response Biomedical (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), a developer of point-of-care diagnostics, has signed an agreement with Ischemia Technologies (Denver, Colorado) to co-develop a rapid diagnostic test to detect ischemia. The point-of-care test will be developed on Response Biomedical's RAMP rapid diagnostic platform using proprietary antibodies developed by Ischemia. "As an early indicator, a RAMP ischemia test will complement the current array of RAMP tests which indicate whether someone has already suffered a heart attack," said Humberto Reyes, chairman of Response Biomedical's board. It is estimated that the potential market for screening and monitoring cardiac ischemia is in excess of $500 million, and a rapid blood test to detect ischemia can help physicians rule out heart attack, reducing the time a patient remains hospitalized. The test would be used in conjunction with one or more cardiac markers for patients with chest pain. Response Biomedical is developing three RAMP tests for cardiac markers to detect the occurrence of a heart attack: Troponin I, CK-MB and Myoglobin. The Ischemia Test immunoassay is the company's second product. The company's ACB Test has been submitted to the FDA for premarket approval.

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