“May 13, 2002 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

Guess whose DNA was used by Celera Genomics during its project to map the human genome back in 1999? It was primarily the DNA of J. Craig Ventor, Ph.D., who was Chairman of Celera at that time. The disclosure, made last week, has stirred some controversy. Defenders say it is in the tradition of self-experimentation by researchers. But critics say it was motivated by Dr. Ventor’s desire to immortalize himself. At any rate, the disclosure now lets laboratorians involved in genomic research know the source of the human DNA with which they work.

DIANON POSTS STRONG GROWTH

DIANON System, Inc.’s acquisition of UroCor, Inc. last year is paying off. The anatomic pathology company reported an increase of 66% in revenues for the quarter, from $26.8 million in Q1 2001 to $44.6 million for Q1 2002. Net income increased by 128% for the quarter.

FIRST “ID CHIPS” IMPLANTED IN HUMANS

Last week, doctors in Florida implanted “ID chips” into several humans. When a handheld scanner is waved over the chip, it emits a signal with an ID number. This number, when entered into the Web site of the manufacturer, Applied Digital Solutions, Inc., allows the user to obtain medical or other information about the individual carrying the chip. The goal is to eventually provide medical histories and information about the individuals carrying the chips. The technology is similar to that used by pet ID chips. One barrier to use is that hospitals and physicians do not have the scanners, which cost at least $1,000. Since lab data is a major part of most medical records, laboratorians should keep an eye on this developing technology.

ADD TO: ID Chips

Here’s another example of how implanted instruments in humans can generate diagnostic data. Biotronik has developed a pacemaker that includes a computer chip which tracks heart rhythm and the number of jolts delivered. Ordinarily the physician must see the patient to evaluate the effectiveness of the pacemaker. But Biotronik’s model links to a transmitter the patient keeps nearby. This connects to Biotronik and downloads the performance details of the pacemaker. Biotronik then sends a fax with this information to the physician. This type of technology may demonstrate the feasibility of in vitro diagnostic monitoring.

Beckman Coulter Reports Earnings

For the first quarter, Beckman Coulter Corp. posted revenue growth of 3.9% and earnings growth of 20%. Its clinical diagnostics business increased by 3.9.% for the first quarter, totaling $313.9 million versus $302.1 million for first quarter 2001. Fastest-growing products were in robotic automation and genetic analysis, which grew 20%, and immunodiagnostics, which increased by 8%.

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