By Frances Bishopp

Immucor Inc., maker of blood bank reagent systems, is now selling the IMAGN 2000, the first fully automated cellular assay system designed to monitor disease in HIV patients and patients undergoing transfusion therapy.

The instrument tests for the enumeration of CD4+ and CD8+ T cell lymphocytes, leukocytes and CD34+ stem cells. The IMAGN 2000 performs three vital tests: the 4T8 assay, which provides an absolute count of T-cell subsets for one to 10 patient samples, the CEQer assay, which measures leukocytes in leuko-reduced blood components to determine whether they meet transfusion safety standards, and the STELLer assay, which quantifies the number of stem cells in blood samples collected from cancer patients and in products intended for transplantation.

The IMAGN 2000, which sells for approximately $70,000, will be sold to hospitals and laboratories, Connie Vinson, supervisor of office administration and investor relations at the Atlanta-based company, told BioWorld Today.

Immucor will distribute the IMAGN 2000 in the U.S. for Biometric Imaging Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., which originally developed the product.

The IMAGN 2000 provides accurate and precise absolute cell counts with rapid turnaround and minimal hands-on time by the operator. The high degree of precision is due in part to the elimination of steps, such as washing and separating the sample, where cell loss and error frequently occur.

"Right now this type of testing is done manually in a laboratory," Vinson said. "There is not a fully automated system for it; this will be the first."

The IMAGN 2000 uses a new technology called microvolume fluorometry. Unlike other laser analysis techniques, the cells in this process are held in stasis while the laser moves in multiple wavelengths per cell across the sample. *