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In Brief This Week: Becton Dickinson, Quidel, Lucid Diagnostics, AnchorDx, and 54gene

NEW YORK – Becton Dickinson announced this week the acquisition of San Francisco-based Velano Vascular, which has developed technology that enables blood draws from peripheral intravenous catheter lines. The Velano device, called PIVO, inserts a blood collection tube into an intravenous line to collect a sample, then retracts the tube once the sample is obtained. PIVO is cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration and can potentially be used to support a “one-stick hospital stay,” according to BD. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Quidel has launched a testing service, Quidel Services, and announced the state of Delaware as a first partner this week for asymptomatic COVID-19 screening using the firm’s rapid antigen tests. The service is a turnkey COVID-19 testing program and will support the reopening of K-12 schools in Delaware. Quidel will staff test locations, coordinate sample collection, run tests, and report results to the Delaware Division of Public Health and participating schools and school districts.

PavMed said this week that its subsidiary Lucid Diagnostics and UpScriptHealth have entered into a deal whereby UpScript will provide a Lucid-branded, web-based telemedicine platform to support Lucid's upcoming EsoGuard Telemedicine Program. The platform will enable patients with chronic heartburn symptoms to request a video evaluation by a physician and a referral for testing with Lucid's EsoGuard Esophageal DNA Test, if necessary. EsoGuard is a next-generation sequencing-based DNA methylation test performed on esophageal cells. Used in conjunction with Lucid's EsoCheck Cell Collection Device, it can detect esophageal precancer in at-risk gastroesophageal reflux disease patients, PavMed said.

Lucid is launching a network of Lucid Test Centers, initially in the Phoenix area, where patients can undergo EsoGuard testing.

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

AnchorDx said this week its UriFind test was awarded breakthrough device designation by the US Food and Drug Administration. The test leverages urine DNA methylation detection-based technology for the early detection of bladder cancer. According to Guangzhou, China-based AnchorDx, UriFind is as good as cytoscopy and better than exfoliative cytology and fluorescence in situ hybridization for detecting early and non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.

Nigerian health tech company 54gene said this week that it is creating a trust to invest up to 5 percent of future proceeds from its commercial drug discovery program into better diagnostics and medicines for Africans and building scientific research spaces across the continent. The trust, which is part of the company's commitment to Africa program, will be managed by an advisory committee.

FIND and Unitaid will invest in technology transfer agreements to increase local production of rapid COVID-19 antigen tests in Africa and Latin America at prices in the range of $2.00 to $2.50 per test. The global nonprofits announced last week that they will use funds under the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator program to support creation of a Center of Excellence at Carlsbad, California-based DCN Dx that will facilitate technology transfer to Brazil-based Wama Diagnóstica and supply Latin America and the Caribbean with 2 million tests per month. Mologic and Bionote will transfer technology to Diatropix, a manufacturing facility based at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal. Diatropix will in turn seek regulatory authorization for the tests and commercialize them under its own brand, with the goal of producing 2.5 million tests per month by 2022. And Guangzhou, China-based Wondfo will partner with Viatris subsidiary Xixia Pharmaceuticals, based in Gauteng, South Africa, with the potential to produce 144 million rapid COVID-19 tests per year.

HTG Molecular Diagnostics said this week that it has created a new business unit called HTG Therapeutics, which will use the HTG EdgeSeq platform to develop early-stage drug candidates. The new business unit is a direct result of the development of HTG's nearly 20,000-gene mRNA panel, the HTG Transcriptome Panel, that the company expects to commercially release in August and is currently in the hands of early-access users. HTG said it will use the panel to profile RNA modifications early in the drug-discovery process to help generate lead compounds faster and with superior efficacy and toxicity profiles. The company will initially focus on identifying development candidates targeting RNA or RNA-modifying proteins, which could be relevant in areas such as oncology, immunology, transplant, diabetes, and rare disease. HTG CEO John Lubniewski noted in a statement that the company will continue to invest in its existing life science tools and diagnostics business, including HTG EdgeSeq instruments, RUO panels, and VERI/O lab service offerings.

Microbiome Insights said this week that it has received accreditation from the College of American Pathologists. The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company provides end-to-end microbiome sequencing and comprehensive bioinformatics analysis. The company works with pharma, biotech, nutrition, cosmetic, and agriculture companies as well as with academic and government research institutions, and has supported over 600 microbiome studies from basic research to commercial R&D and clinical trials.

In Brief This Week is a selection of news items that may be of interest to our readers but had not previously appeared on 360Dx.