Ampersand and AmeriPath to jointly develop diagnostic tools for cancer screening

Chicago 27 March 2001In a move which will provide patients, laboratories, pathologists, and physicians with access to leading-edge medical technology, Ampersand Medical Corporation and AmeriPath Inc. have formed a strategic alliance. The mutual agreement includes the joint development of new technologies and products. AmeriPath will receive an undisclosed amount of equity in Ampersand as a compensation for this development work. Additionally, AmeriPath will provide laboratory diagnostic services to Ampersand for a continued research and development, as well as clinical trials. Ampersand will pay AmeriPath for these services under favourable terms.

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AmeriPath will work with Ampersand to bring to market several of Ampersand's technologies and products, including its InPath In-Cell HPV Test. In-Cell HPV is a new technology for detecting Human Papillomavirus (HPV) through the identification of increased activity of the E6 and E7 oncogenes for HPV, the specific strains of HPV implicated in cervical cancer. Another technology is the development of CerviPak, Ampersand's proprietary disposable liquid cell preservation and slide-preparation system which requires no instrumentation. The companies equally intend to co-develop several new InPath "cocktails" for the detection of abnormal cells in urologic and other cancers, and for endocervical cells in Pap test samples.

"This collaboration represents a true partnership with AmeriPath that will allow each of us to strategically participate in the other's future", stated Peter P. Gombrich, Ampersand's chairman and chief executive officer. "Ampersand will benefit from the scientific expertise, professionalism, and medical skills inherent in the AmeriPath organisation, particularly its Center for Advanced Diagnostics (CAD). AmeriPath will play a vital role in our goal to offer low cost and easy access cancer screening on a global basis. The upside potential from this relationship will be tremendous for both companies."

Ampersand's new e2 Collector, designed to replace the sometimes ineffective and painful cervical spatulas and brushes currently used in Pap testing, is an individual component of Ampersand's In-Path System for cervical cancer screening. AmeriPath will purchase and distribute this superior product, being first to market with this cutting-edge technology. AmeriPath will also conduct a pilot project using Ampersand's SAMBA System, a telemedicine and image management system at several of its sites.

"Ampersand and AmeriPath share a common vision", explained James C. New, AmeriPath's chairman and chief executive officer. "We will be a major participant in the development of more efficient and robust methodologies to provide superior diagnostic and therapeutic information to physicians and our patients. This agreement is possible because of the expertise and technology we have developed at CAD. It further validates AmeriPath's emerging role in genomics and proteomics."

"Ampersand's expertise in applying proteomics to the fields of cancer screening and diagnostics is truly exciting", stated Dennis M. Smith, Jr., MD, AmeriPath's senior vice president and medical director. "Its initial application of proteomics for enhancing Pap testing for the detection of cervical dysplasia and cancer is demonstrating impressive results in early studies. More importantly, we believe the platform they have developed will allow for the rapid development of other protein-based, molecular screening and diagnostic tests. AmeriPath is well situated to be a part of this evolving field."

Ampersand Medical Corporation develops cost-effective, laboratory-based and point-of-care screening systems to assist in the early detection of cervical, gastrointestinal and other cancers. The InPath System is being developed to provide medical practitioners with a highly accurate, low-cost, point-of-care cervical cancer screening system. Other products include AIM 2000, an automated system facilitating the analysis of medical samples, and SAMBA Virtual Laboratory software used for medical-image processing, database and multimedia case management, telepathology and teleradiology.

AmeriPath Inc. is focused on providing anatomic pathology, diagnostics in cancer, genomics, and physician and laboratory health care information services to physicians, hospitals, managed care organisations, and national clinical laboratories. AmeriPath has operations in 21 states, 42 outpatient laboratories, 224 hospital locations, 64 outpatient surgery centres, and is affiliated with 420 board-certified pathologists. AmeriPath's sub-speciality expertise includes dermatopathology, surgical pathology, hematopathology, oncologic pathology, gastrointestinal pathology, breast pathology, urologic pathology, cytopathology, and immunopathology.


Leslie Versweyveld

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