“December 1, 2003 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

Lab-Interlink Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska is heading to bankruptcy court. On November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, the company laid off 50 employees. Rodney Markin, M.D., Ph.D., Company founder and Chairman stated that an expected $1 million payment by a prospective buyer had not materialized that day. The money was to have covered payroll and operating expenses for November. Only four employees remain. Negotiations with the buyer continue. Markin says Lab-Interlink needs between $8 million and $12 million in new cash to resume operations. Lab-Interlink sells a line of laboratory automation equipment and software.

NEW INDIANAPOLIS LAB

Clarian Health Partners of Indianapolis, Indiana is building a new off-site core laboratory to serve the three hospitals in its health system, as well as several other hospitals in the area. The lab will be 150,000 square feet. This lab may form the basis for an invigorated lab outreach program in the Indianapolis area.

DNA ANALYSIS HELPS IN PENNSYLVANIA HEPATITIS OUTBREAK

Molecular diagnostics continues to make advances. With 520 confirmed cases and three deaths, the hepatitis A outbreak in the Pittsburgh area made plenty of headlines. New DNA-based tools have aided epidemiologists in their investigation. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, based on DNA analysis, it was highly probable that the Pittsburgh outbreak was caused by a single food source. The CDC also stated that it could find no food handlers who transmitted the disease.

ADD TO: Hepatitis A

These findings are significant, because several employees at the Beaver Valley Chi- Chi’s Restaurant, source of the hepatitis infection were infected. DNA analysis of viral samples from outbreaks in Tennessee and Georgia showed enough similarities that officials believe one food is the source of the outbreak in the three areas. Imported green onions are suspected, but this has not been confirmed. The use of molecular technologies to match viral strains within an epidemic and across several epidemics, in a matter of weeks, shows the potential of molecular diagnostics to radically change existing standards of practice.

TRANSITIONS

Quest Diagnostics Incorporated announced that Chairman and CEO Kenneth W. Freeman will transfer CEO responsibilities to Surya N. Mohapatra, Ph.D., who is current President and COO. The transition will happen by spring 2004. Freeman will remain as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Esoterix, Inc. has a new Vice President and General Manager for its oncology division. Bill Tilton, formerly with DIANON Systems and UroCor recently accepted the position and will work from Esoterix’ Austin, Texas headquarters.

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