Developing innovations for sustainable health
It’s a scary fact that almost every day, a new disease is being discovered. And our fast-paced lifestyle is not helping one bit. But thanks to breakthrough technologies that come just right on time to help us detect early and combat these diseases before they reach the devastating stage. GE Healthcare is one of those that tirelessly develop innovative cancer screening technologies. Recently, they announced their latest “Healthymagination” initiatives.
Ezyhealth & Beauty: Please introduce GE Healthcare and the key Healthymagination initiatives you have launched in recent years?
Mr Utama: Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Its broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and performance solutions services help customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, GE Healthcare partners with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.
GE Healthcare’s latest “Healthymagination” initiative is an open innovation challenge, announced in September 2011, to fund promising ideas to improve breast cancer diagnostics. The US$100 million global open innovation challenge seeks to identify and bring to market ideas that advance breast cancer diagnostics. The goal is to help health care professionals better understand tumours associated with triple negative cancer, a type of cancer that is less responsive to standard treatments and is typically more aggressive, as well as the molecular similarities between breast cancer and other solid tumours, improving early detection, allowing for more accurate diagnoses and ultimately helping doctors make the best possible treatment decisions based on each patient’s unique cancer.
EHB: GE Healthcare recently equipped itself with new medical technologies meant to improve cancer screening and diagnosis. Share with us these recent breakthroughs.
Mr Utama: GE will invest US$1 billion over the next five years on R&D programs to expand its suite of advanced technologies and solutions for cancer detection and treatment, beginning with breast cancer.
GE’s SenoCase™ is a breakthrough new ultra-portable mammography device concept that will take a traditional digital mammography system and miniaturise it into an affordable portable unit the size of a large suitcase. This concept has the potential to transform access to breast health screenings for millions of women around the world.
GE Healthcare has also developed the game-changing SenoBright™, Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM), a breast screening technique that will enable more precise identification of breast cancer incidence for over one million women by 2020. SenoBright’s exclusive imaging technique, which combines digital mammography, low-and high-level x-rays and a common contrast agent, better identifies incidence of cancer, and helps clinicians better select patients requiring biopsy. SenoBright will result in lower costs by reducing unnecessary procedures and improving a doctor’s ability to appropriately treat patients. SenoBright is currently 510k clearance pending at the U.S. FDA, and not available for sale in the United States. Outside the US, SenoBright has been installed in 17 care centres across Europe and Asia.
GE’s commitment to new oncology solutions extends through the full cancer care continuum. Among the advanced technologies that GE scientists are working on is a new positron emission tomography (PET) tracer. The goal of this tracer is to help doctors evaluate whether particular cancer treatments are working very early in the course of therapy, by measuring new blood vessel formation in tumors.
EHB: In what ways are these new technologies more beneficial to patients, in comparison to older ones?
Mr Utama: GE Healthcare today offers a wide portfolio for oncology and a strategy that combines cellular research, medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and information technology. These innovative technologies help researchers increase their understanding of the causes and progression of cancer and help physicians make more personalised cancer treatment and management decisions, while improving clinical outcomes and accelerating the delivery of care.
An important breakthrough is the development of more advanced imaging tools to help oncologists manage a patient’s complete cancer pathway, and there are few that offer as much clinical versatility and value as Positron Emission Tomography (PET)/Computed Tomography (CT). Combining functional and anatomical data in a single image, PET/CT excels in early diagnosis, uncovering valuable information on tumour location, size and metabolic activity. It assists physicians in differentiating between malignant and benign lesions, identifying recurrences and metastases, and guiding treatment selection and delivery. The GE Healthcare Discovery* PET/CT systems are designed to optimize the full range of oncology applications, from diagnosis and staging to treatment planning and monitoring. Their versatility presents an ideal solution for multi-use and shared services, and across the patient care cycle.
EHB: Any plans to further upgrade GE Healthcare’s technologies?
Mr Utama: GE Healthcare is investing on the development of new oncology solutions, and GE is building on advanced technologies which include:
New biomarkers – A leader in the fast-growing in vitro molecular diagnostic sector, GE’s Clarient business provides diagnostic tests that pathologists and oncologists use to understand the nature of a cancer. Clarient is investigating a new biomarker, TLE3, to identify patients who will not respond to Taxane. The goal of this test is to help clinicians exclude those patients from this therapy who are least likely to benefit, thus saving them needless exposure to serious side effects. TLE3 is being developed for breast cancer, lung cancer and ovarian cancer by GE Clarient. Our hope is to have these tests ready for market launch in 2013.
Molecular pathology – GE Global Research scientists are working on an exclusive cancer diagnostic technology that may give a clearer picture of pathways driving specific tumours. Called multiplexing, the technology could allow pathologists to conduct more than 50 different stains on a single tissue section.
Hyperpolarizer – In collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), GE Healthcare and GE Global Research are developing new C13-based agents for metabolic imaging. University researchers have just announced groundbreaking results from a study of prostate cancer utilizing GE’s C13 technology, where real-time metabolic imaging of a human patient was conducted for the first time.
Connected oncology workflow – MD Connect is a new, innovative thin-client solution designed for oncology that addresses the need for a seamless workflow from scan to plan through monitoring treatment effectiveness.