GE Healthcare to Invest $1 Billion in Oncology

Sep 22, 2011

GE Healthcare, the health business of General Electric, will dedicate $1 billion of its total R&D budget during the next five years to its technologies for manufacturing biopharmaceuticals and for cancer research. Part of the money will go toward expanding the company’s cancer-diagnostic and molecular-imaging capabilities, as well.

GE Healthcare’s planned investment will focus on developing new oncology solutions, will help develop technologies, and continue the company’s current research. The funds will be dedicated to the following projects:

  • The company will further develop its biotechnology products and services, which are used to manufacture FDA-approved biopharmaceuticals and develop new and targeted cancer therapies.

  • The company will further develop its technologies for life-science research, such as its cellular and subcellular imaging technologies, to advance understanding of cancer, discover drugs, and conduct biomarker research.

  • GE’s Clarient business, which provides diagnostic tests, will investigate a new biomarker, TLE3, to identify patients who will not respond to the anticancer therapy Taxane. The goal of the project is to help clinicians exclude patients from Taxane therapy who are least likely to benefit, thus sparing them serious side effects. The company is developing TLE3 for breast cancer, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer and plans to introduce the tests to the market in 2013.

  • GE Global Research scientists are working on a cancer-diagnostic technology that could illuminate the pathways that foster specific tumors. The technology, known as multiplexing, could allow pathologists to conduct more than 50 different stains on a single tissue section and could lead to personalized treatment recommendations.

  • In collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, GE Healthcare and GE Global Research will develop new C13-based agents for metabolic imaging. A study of prostate cancer using GE’s C13 technology enabled real-time metabolic imaging of a human patient. The technology could help clinicians understand the precise margins of a tumor, how fast the tumor is growing, and how well it responds to treatment.

The $1-billion investment involves all parts of GE Healthcare’s global business and is intended to help the company market promising cancer solutions. “The only way we can help clinicians beat cancer is to give them the tools to find it earlier, stage it better, and quantitatively measure response to therapy,” said GE Vice-President and GE Healthcare Chief Technology Officer Mike Harsh in a company press release. Harsh oversees GE Healthcare’s global R&D efforts. “The integration of GE Healthcare’s expertise in imaging, analytics, diagnostics, cellular analysis, and healthcare IT is helping create technologies and solutions that can be used in a rural developing country or in a modern urban hospital,” he added.

Data from the World Health Organization indicate that cancer rates could increase by 50%, which would create 15 million new cases of cancer in 2020. The potential increase in incidence around the world could make cancer a key global healthcare challenge.

See related Pharm Tech articles:

Global Healthcare on the Ground (Pharm Tech)

Drug Shortages Loom Large (ePT)

Big Pharma’s Manufacturing Blueprint for the Future (Pharm Tech)

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