A Medical Device Daily

Roche (Basel, Switzerland) and GE Healthcare (Chalfont St. Giles, UK) have joined in a drug-and-imaging agent collaboration focused on developing personalized care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In clinical trials, patients taking a Roche anti-amyloid drug candidate for Alzheimer’s disease will be monitored clinically for drug response using GE’s positron emission tomography (PET) diagnostic imaging agent. The PET technology measures and tracks levels of beta-amyloid, a form of brain plaque believed to cause memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients.

Previously, the presence of plaque could only be confirmed during autopsy.

GE Healthcare licensed a broad class of imaging compounds from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003. Those compounds attach to beta-amyloid plaque in the brain, allowing the plaque to be imaged with PET. By using these compounds to measure the levels of beta-amyloid during clinical trials, the company said it should be possible to measure the effectiveness of drug therapies being developed by Roche to combat Alzheimer’s disease.

Both companies will independently analyze patient data gathered during the controlled trials to monitor the progression of the disease and then share information to validate the efficacy of both the therapeutic product and the diagnostic tool.

The data gathered will aid both companies in submitting comprehensive data to regulatory authorities for approvals.

Peter Hug, Roche’s global head of pharma partnering, called the deal “an early step in experimental medicine,” noting that use of GE’s PET technology “allows Roche to test the efficacy of our product more accurately than was previously possible, which in the long term, will help us efficiently advance through clinical development, potentially helping patients sooner.”

“This imaginative and groundbreaking agreement demonstrates how medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies are increasingly collaborating with the aim of developing innovative, more effective and safer treatments,” said Bill Clarke, chief technology and medical officer at GE Healthcare.

He said the collaboration “should allow clinicians to identify effective treatments earlier for this debilitating disease.”

When General Electric (Fairfield, Connecticut) announced its plans to acquired Amersham (Little Chalfont, UK) in the fall of 2003, a $9.5 billion deal that was completed the following spring (Medical Device Daily, April 9, 2004), it said its mission was to transform healthcare from a late-disease treatment orientation to an “early health” diagnostics orientation.

Clarke said the Roche-GE Healthcare deal, which will “[increase] clinical value at the intersection of diagnostics and therapeutics, is one way that GE is carrying out its mission.”

The World Health Organization (Geneva, Switzerland) estimates that there are about 18 million people worldwide suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, a figure projected to nearly double by 2025 to 34 million.

Gorham to head combined NHSBT

Martin Gorham, chief executive of the UK’s National Blood Authority, will be the first chief executive of the new National Health Service Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) unit unveiled by Health Minister Rosie Winterton earlier this month.

The new unit, which will be established on Oct. 1, will combine and replace the roles of the National Blood Authority and UK Transplant, with a focus of increasing the quality, safety and supply of donated blood, organs and tissues, as well as boosting the effectiveness and efficiency of blood and transplant services.

NHS Blood and Transplant will be a Special Health Authority in England and Wales, but also will have responsibilities in Scotland in relation to organ transplantation.

Winterton said Gorham’s knowledge and experience “will provide the continuity needed to ensure the smooth transition from two authorities to one.”

Prior to his appointment as chief executive of the National Blood Authority in 1998, his previous positions included director of projects and corporate affairs in the NHS Executive South Thames and chief executive of the London Ambulance Service.

“The donation of blood, organs and tissues is a precious gift and helps to save or dramatically improve thousands of people’s lives every year,” Winterton said. “NHSBT will continue and build on the excellent work already being done by the National Blood Authority and UK Transplant.”

No Comments