“September 8, 2003 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Early last week, Laboratory Corporation of America announced an out-of-court settlement in its lawsuit involving its subsidiary, DIANON Systems, Inc. As plaintiff, DIANON had sued five former DIANON employees and their new company, DiaPath LLC. The claims involved “unfair trade practices” by DiaPath representatives, who had approached DIANON customers and encouraged them to switch their business to DiaPath. Among other things, as part of the settlement, defendants agreed to discontinue use of the name DiaPath.

Privately-owned Esoterix, Inc. of Austin, Texas continues to enjoy rapid growth. It recently reported that revenue for the first six months of 2003 increased 32% over the first six months of 2002. Although it doesn’t release its financials to the public, Esoterix is known to have annual sales in excess of $100 million. Thus, 32% growth in the first six months represents at least $17 million in new revenues.

VACCINATED BOOMERS HAVE SMALLPOX IMMUNITY

In the war against terrorism, many people working in laboratories have justifiable concerns about how an attack with biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox might put them at risk. Now comes good news for that generation of baby boomers and older folks who were vaccinated for smallpox decades ago. Researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon conducted a study of 300 volunteers who were immunized against smallpox between 25 and 75 years ago. Their conclusion? More than 90% of the subjects retained “substantial immunity” to smallpox.

ADD TO: Smallpox immunity

OHSU researchers discovered that antibody defenses were still ample in people vaccinated as long as 75 years ago. But anti-viral T-cells became undetectable in volunteers after about 30 years. Because of the lack of specific T-cells, some experts caution that smallpox immunity, decades after vaccination, may not be
strong enough to fully defeat an infection. However, OHSU researchers Mark Slifka, Ph.D. and Erika Hammarlund believe that, because antibodies are a first line of defense, vaccinated people have “essentially lifelong immunity” against a smallpox infection.

CAREER MOVES

Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. (DSL) in Honolulu, Hawaii has a new President. Richard I. Okazaki, formerly Senior Vice President and General Manager, assumed his new duties earlier this month. Long-time DSL President John Edwards, Jr., M.D. retired at the end of August and is rumored to be looking for a retirement home on the Carolina Coast.

•After four years as CEO, Roy H. Trucks has resigned from his position at Valdosta, Georgia-based Doctors Laboratory, Inc. During his tenure, Doctors Laboratory became one of the first labs in the United States to be certified as ISO- 9000 compliant.

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