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GEN News Highlights : Aug 3, 2010

PerkinElmer to Purchase VisEn for In Vivo Molecular Imaging Capabilities

Company gains technologies that can be leveraged in preclinical research.

PerkinElmer is acquiring VisEn Medical, an in vivo molecular imaging technology company based in Bedford, MA. The deal will enhance PerkinElmer’s cellular imaging business by expanding the company's technologies and capabilities downstream into preclinical research.

"VisEn provides a compelling offering in molecular-imaging platforms and tools that are synergistic with PerkinElmer's existing business,” says Richard Eglen, president, biodiscovery, PerkinElmer. “This acquisition broadens our product portfolio along the drug discovery pipeline from basic disease-based research to preclinical drug discovery applications through the addition of proprietary chemistries in the emerging and fast growing space of translational biomarker reagents."

Founded in 2000 by Ralph Weissleder and Kirtland Poss, VisEn's customer base includes academic imaging facilities and departments, biologists, radiologists, medical imaging facilities (combined with CT/MRI/ultrasound), pharmaceutical therapeutic research departments, and contract research organizations. VisEn has also collaborated with pharmaceutical companies to design custom molecular-imaging reagents and applications for specific preclinical and clinical research areas.

The VisEn offering includes its Fluorescence Agent Portfolio and its Fluorescence Molecular Tomographic (FMT™) Imaging Systems. These technologies provide quantitative molecular imaging data that can be useful for identifying and characterizing a range of disease biomarkers as well as therapeutic efficacy in cells and animal models.

VisEn's fluorescence molecular imaging systems and reagents are currently used in applications involving research into cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular, skeletal, and pulmonary diseases. They are leveraged to garner biological, functional, and physiological information. The fluorescence agents can be applied to standard animal models. They can also be used together for simultaneous monitoring of multiple molecular processes.

The fluorescence agents are specifically designed and optimized for translational in vivo imaging, VisEn points out. For example, they have narrow, spectrally separated excitation/emission spectra in the NIR region and high fluorescence efficiency, the firm explains. They are also biocompatible, biodegradable, and excretable as well as exhibit chemical and photo-stability in vivo. VisEn states that the agents are compatible with a number of in vivo imaging systems as well as with FMT-based platforms.

VisEn explains that its FMT technology provides noninvasive, whole body, deep-tissue imaging in small animal models and generates 3-D, information-rich results. These systems are used for research in oncology as well as inflammatory, pulmonary, cardiovascular, and skeletal diseases. Biological targets and pathways can be monitored and quantified in real time.

One of the key limitations of optical imaging is the natural scattering of photons by biological tissue, according to VisEn. Hence there is no linearity between raw camera counts captured at the surface of an imaging subject and the true signal intensity emanating from within the subject, regardless of system calibration, the firm continues. Consequently, the depth, size, and associated absolute fluorescence of a fluorescent signal cannot be accurately determined by camera count readouts from conventional imaging systems, VisEn reports.

True tomographic reconstruction with its FMT platform avoids the risk of obtaining misleading data, VisEn points out. Regardless of signal depth, imaging systems based on FMT technology extract more information from the fluorescence signal than conventional planar or single-view instruments. Additionally, proper tomographic reconstruction avoids errors in data interpretation, the firm adds. The result is a quantifiable measurement of fluorochrome concentration at any depth, exhibiting strict linearity in vivo over a range of biologically relevant fluorescence-agent concentrations.