Compumedics (Melbourne, Australia) has signed an agreement giving Oxford Instruments (Surrey, United Kingdom) the distribution rights for Compumedics' sleep-disorder diagnostic systems in the U.S. and much of Europe. Part of Oxford Instruments plc, Oxford Instruments Medical develops instruments for the neurodiagnostic, cardiology, and obstetrics markets and provides instruments and accessories for EMG, EEG, evoked potentials, and sleep disorders, David Burton, managing director of Compumedics, said that changes in the sleep and neurophysiology markets "necessitated that Compumedics partner with a well-known company in the neurodiagnostic market." He added that the opening of Compumedics USA (Fridley, Minnesota) will allow Compumedics to better serve its growing customer base. Compumedics develops systems for the investigation of sleeping disorders, the company's equipment was selected by the National Institutes of Health for use in the Sleep Heart Health Study evaluating the cardio-respiratory consequences of mild-to-moderate untreated sleep apnea.

Endovasc (Montgomery, Alabama) reported the launch of a collaboration with Hermes BioScience (San Francisco, California) to develop a liposomal delivery system for its biological bypass drug, Nicotine Receptor Agonist (NRAX). "This drug is being developed for therapeutic angiogenesis and will first be used in patients with disease of the lower extremities called peripheral artery occlusive disease, then later for coronary artery disease," said Dr. David Summers, chairman and CEO of Endovasc. Hermes BioScience is a National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health-certified laboratory. Endovasc recently acquired worldwide exclusive rights to use agonists such as nicotine, continine, epibatodine, and other substances that act on the nicotine receptors to stimulate new blood vessel growth in blood- and oxygen-starved organs and tissues. The company said that its chief scientific officer, Dr. Danilo Lasic, would coordinate the liposome development in San Francisco.

Lifestream Technologies (Post Falls, Idaho) has signed an agreement giving National Distribution and Contracting (NDC) distribution rights for the Lifestream Cholesterol Monitor, a hand-held device that tests total cholesterol in three minutes, using one drop of blood. The data is downloaded from the testing device to a Smart Card and transferred over the Internet to a closed encrypted web site via proprietary software, Privalink. Christopher Maus, chief executive officer of Lifestream, said, "By representing more than 250 distributors conducting business in North America and Latin America, [NDC is] one of the largest buying and selling entities in the health care industry today." NDC is the parent corporation of Abco, StarLine, CIDA, and ADC, independent medical, surgical and dental supply distributors.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals (San Diego, California) formed an alliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb (New York) to discover, design and develop orally active compounds that selectively modulate the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). Ligand will receive an undisclosed up-front payment and may receive up to $8.6 million in research funding should the research continue through April 2004. Ligand also will receive future product milestone payments and royalties as compounds are developed and commercialized. BMS will receive exclusive worldwide rights to all indications for the compounds discovered in the collaboration. MR plays a critical role in cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure and hypertension. Ligand will use its proprietary nuclear receptor technology to discover receptor-specific, tissue-selective non-steroidal molecules that target the mineralocorticoid receptor.

St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) and Cambridge Heart (Bedford, Massachusetts) have begun the Alternans Before Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ABCD) trial, a cooperative study on the accuracy of Microvolt T-wave Alternans (TWA) to identify candidates for implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) therapy. The multi-center study will follow asymptomatic patients with coronary artery disease, low ejection fraction, and non-sustained ventricular tachycardia for a year. The trial will be conducted at 25 U.S. medical centers under the direction of Dr. David Rosenbaum and Dr. Otto Constantini of the Heart and Vascular Research Center at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio). Patients who test positive for increased risk of sudden cardiac death will receive a St. Jude Medical Profile MD ICD. Microvolt TWA is a beat-to-beat fluctuation of the ventricular repolarization amplitude on an ECG. Cambridge Heart's Microvolt Alternans Test is the only FDA-cleared, noninvasive test to identify patients at risk for sudden cardiac death.

Xenon Genetics (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) has entered into a collaboration with Warner-Lambert (Morris Plains, New Jersey) intended to result in the production of therapeutics to treat low levels of HDL, a condition associated with cardiovascular disease. The three-year deal means $57.7 million to Xenon for a single product, with milestone payments for additional products produced from the collaboration. The deal includes an up-front payment, an equity purchase, research funding and preclinical and clinical milestone payments, as well as sales royalties. The collaboration follows last summer's discovery by Xenon researchers and collaborators of mutations in the ABC1 gene that impair a person's ability to regulate levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein).

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