With the dawning of a new decade in 2010 may come a new approach to the detection of cancer—a microchip that will scan tissue for metastatic cancer cells.
Researchers at two New York universities—Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and the College of Nanonscale Science and Engineering of the University at Albany—have spent the past two years developing such a microchip through a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. “If everything goes according to plan, and the milestones are hit on time, there will be a final licensable product some time in year four, which is three years from now,” says John Condeelis, PhD, principal investigator for the microchip project and co-chairman of anatomy and structural biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City.
The microchip will consist of nanoscale components that can perform several functions. When placed in a cancerous mass, the microchip, just two to three cells in diameter and a tenth of a millimeter wide, will determine whether metastatic cells that require more aggressive therapy are present. The information, collected on a microprocessor in the microchip, will be read by a scanner, similar to the way in which an electronic device is scanned to pay tolls on highway systems, Dr. Condeelis explains. The microchip will identify the type and number of migratory cancerous cells. It can remain in the body for days, weeks, or even longer.
The microchip currently has the technology to observe cells but not to validate the information it receives. Researchers are working on this and on miniaturizing the device, Dr. Condeelis says.
The chip initially will be used for breast cancer because its imaging technology, a multiphoton confocal microscope, is designed specifically for use in the breast, Dr. Condeelis says. The microchip will be used specifically for those cases in which patients are seeding tumor cells into their blood and for which there are no histological markers to detect the circulating tumor cells. This group includes about 400,000 to 500,000 patients a year, he adds. “So, there’s got to be additional prognostic markers for that huge middle group. This device could be extremely valuable in that realm.”
The microchip could also be useful for detecting metastatic cells in other cancers, such as head and neck, colon, lung, and pancreas, Dr. Condeelis predicts. “Those, for sure, show a high degree of hemotagenous metastasis, and for some of those, lymph node involvement is not predictive of outcome.” For such tumors, he adds, the chip could be “extremely valuable in getting a definitive prognostic readout.”
Global Med Technologies recently announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted patent approval for its SafeTrace Tx transfusion software, developed by Global Med’s Wyndgate Technologies division.
“We knew when we built our product that it had some unique capabilities, and so we wanted to do what was proper to protect the ownership of those unique features,” says Noah Bentley, MS, SBB(ASCP), senior director of marketing for Wyndgate.
The SafeTrace Tx patent covers a group of features that facilitate just-in-time inventory management and help streamline laboratory workload. “[SafeTrace Tx] helps promote the efficiency of existing operations by doing work in a more effective way,” says Bentley. “And it helps avoid wasting blood because you’ve got a better way to manage existing inventories of blood. That, and a host of additional features, makes SafeTrace Tx unique enough to be patentable.”
One of the features covered by the patent is remote crossmatching, which allows a transfusion service with multiple laboratories to select the best inventory for transfusion from any of its networked facilities.
Remote crossmatch technology, in and of itself, is not unique—other vendors offer it in their systems, says consultant Tyler Snook, owner of Blood Bank Consultants.com, Denver. “What would surprise me,” he adds, “is if [Global Med] filed litigation against other vendors who use crossmatch technology.”
Other software manufacturers may offer similar features with their products, but they might have difficulty matching the sophistication of SafeTrace Tx, says Bentley, adding that rather than keeping other vendors from offering similar features, the patent will showcase the software for customers. “It’s more about our clients recognizing the uniqueness and the value that our product really brings to them.”
The nonprofit North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance has released to the public its security policy template for managing sensitive electronic information on portable devices and removable media, including laptops, PDAs, USB drives, and CDs/DVDs.
The template details policies, standards, and procedures for protecting sensitive electronic information when it is used outside an enterprise’s fixed security and firewall protections.
To view the consortium’s template, go to www.nchica.org/HIPAA Resources/Samples/Portal.asp and click on “Security.”
Dawning Technologies has signed a reseller agreement with the clinical diagnostics company Dade Behring, providing Dade with the rights to resell Dawning middleware products worldwide. Dawning products are used jointly with Dade Behring diagnostic systems to provide information connectivity and middleware processing capability.
The federal government has launched a new Web site to help vendors and public organizations test their products for compliance with standards needed to participate in the National Health Information Network, or NHIN.
The site, http://xreg2.nist.gov/hit-testing/, provides those who implement health information technology with access to the tools and resources needed to support and test their implementation of standards-based health systems. It specifically provides information about the NHIN initiatives, Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), interoperability specifications, standards referenced by the specifications, and available test resources. It also details how you can help expand the site as a testing partner.
The Web site was developed through a partnership of the CCHIT, HITSP, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
MedAvant Healthcare Solutions and Bloodhound Technologies have partnered to combine MedAvant’s real-time claims-processing technology with Bloodhound’s clinical code editing expertise.
The partnership integrates Bloodhound’s ClaimsGuard application service provider-based clinical claims editing solution with MedAvant’s Phoenix system. The offering is available to MedAvant’s clearinghouse customers and clients of MedAvant’s National Preferred Provider Network.
Clients can choose a set of edits based on standard sources, such as the American Medical Association and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These edits can be customized to match payer reimbursement policies and exceptions as they occur across lines of business, geography, and providers. A full audit trail with all edit information is available through MedAvant’s portal.
Clinical code editing powered by Bloodhound is one part of MedAvant’s new front-end solutions for payers. Other services include single-source claim aggregation; checking for duplicate claims; editing for technical issues, such as HIPAA compliance; verifying insurance eligibility; screening for fraud and abuse; and business intelligence through Web-based data analytics.
Practice Fusion has acquired Medical ChartWizard Systems for an undisclosed sum.
Medical ChartWizard Systems markets a comprehensive electronic medical record system for office-based physicians. Practice Fusion offers an integrated, on-demand health care platform delivered in a software-as-a-service model.
Aperio Technologies and the California Society of Pathologists are hosting the third annual Pathology Visions conference, Oct. 21–23 in San Diego.
Conference attendees can network with peers and health care experts, peruse cutting-edge digital pathology products, access digital pathology “test-drive” stations, and attend two days of multi-track educational sessions and panel discussions covering the latest topics in digital pathology.
Additional information about the conference is available at www.pathologyvisions.com/pv/ or by calling 866-478-4111.
Digi-Trax Corp. recently contracted for its Hema Trax on-demand ISBT 128 compliance labeling software with Cerner Corp., bringing to 12 the number of Hema Trax contracts the company has with blood bank management software vendors.
Hema Trax labels contain verbiage that complies with all FDA labeling requirements codified by the ICCBBA in U.S. Industry Consensus Standard version 2.0.0, Nov. 2005. Users who have paid the Digi-Trax lifecycle software support fee can download updates directly from the company’s Web site, www.digi-trax.com.
McKesson Corp. has announced that Comanche County Memorial Hospital, Lawton, Okla., has signed a $13 million agreement to deploy a combination of McKesson’s Horizon Clinicals suite of solutions, resource management systems, and information technology services. The hospital plans to use McKesson solutions to reduce administrative costs, enhance and automate health care delivery processes, and create an electronic health record.
TheraDoc has contracted for its infection control and antimicrobial management solutions with OSF Healthcare System, Peoria, Ill., and the Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha. Both health care entities will implement the TheraDoc Expert System Platform and its suite of knowledge modules to address patient safety threats, such as hospital-acquired infections, antimicrobial-resistant diseases, and adverse drug events.
Dr. Aller is director of automated disease surveillance and team lead for disaster preparedness Focus B, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at email@example.com.