IBM, Cal Tech, E-Patients, Qiagen, Digene, SABiosciences


ADVANCES IN GENETIC AND MOLECULAR TECHNOLOGIES are giving pathologists new tools for diagnosing disease and guiding therapy. But what often receives less attention is how genetic and molecular technologies are finding applications in other scientific fields.

In the September issue of Nature Nanotechnology, researchers at IBM Corp. and California Institute of Technology published a paper describing efforts to build a computer microchip based upon DNA and other items. The scientists say they have found a way to use synthetic DNA and tiny lithographic templates to position carbon nanotubes, silicon nanowires and other elements to fabricate a nanochip.

The synthetic DNA allows them to place components as little as six nanometers apart. That’s less than the thickness of a cell membrane. Features on the chips are as little as two nanometers wide, compared to the most advanced microchips today which have features that average 45 nanometers wide.

This technology won’t be in the market tomorrow. IBM says it may take as long as 10 years to bring products incorporating this science to market. But it illustrates how technology based on DNA has the potential to find applications in a variety of non-healthcare applications.


IT’S TIME TO MEET THE “E-PATIENT.” That is the new term to describe a patient who is getting health information from the Internet before going to visit his/her physician.

In Spain, researchers from the Miguel Hernández University surveyed 660 physicians who work in the Spanish National Health System and found that 90% of these doctors had been asked questions by their patients on health subjects the patients had studied on the Internet before their office visit.

At least 31% of the physicians in the survey stated that Internet-based health information complicates their relation- ships with patients and may even undermine the credibility of physicians. In fact, because of the belief that Internet information may lessen the credibility of physicians, some doctors in the survey said that they normally do not suggest web sites to their patients as a source of complementary information.

This study is a reminder to laboratory administrators and pathologists that consumer use of the Internet for healthcare purposes continues to grow. That is one reason why clinical labs and pathology groups should maintain a useful web site that has relevant and regularly-updated information about the services their organizations provide.


IF NETHERLANDS-BASED QIAGEN NV does one more acquisition this year, it will join the elite circle of in vitro diagnostics (IVD) companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.

Since 2004, the company has spent more than $2 billion on acquisitions in the IVD space. The biggest deal was its purchase of Digene, Inc., for about $1.6 billion in June, 2007. Qiagen’s most recent acquisition was last month, when it paid $90 million to buy SABiosciences Corp., a U.S.-based company. Qiagen has about $1 billion in funds available that can be used to finance additional acquisitions. It says it may spend up to $500 million on acquisitions during 2010.


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