GE Healthcare (GEHC), a unit of GE (NYSE: GE) announced today that it has won a tender to exclusively provide next generation sequencing services to a research group at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The sequencing services will be provided by a subsidiary of GE Healthcare, SeqWright Genomic Services, a Houston, Texas-based provider of nucleic acid sequencing and other genomic services.
The first clinical study using the “next generation” sequencing technology will focus on identifying mutations and genetic variants associated with metastatic breast cancer. The large, cohort study will be conducted using tissue samples provided by Karolinska Institutet and analysed using GE Healthcare’s next generation sequencing (NGS) capabilities. Combining GEHC’s current diagnostic capabilities with molecular diagnostics and genomics is GEHC’s vision of precision diagnostics for better patient care.
“Understanding how genetic variations at the molecular level affect disease is critical to the discovery and development of new and more effective therapies for complex diseases such metastatic breast cancer,” said Ger Brophy, Chief Technology Officer Life Sciences, GE Healthcare,. “While antibody-based analysis of biomarkers are the cornerstone to diagnosing breast cancer, uncovering the broader molecular landscape of complex cancers using genome-wide screening tools such as NGS, will be critical to the future of therapeutic decision making and new therapeutic development.” Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in women worldwide and is currently treated by a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The treatment decision is based on several clinical factors and histopathological analysis. However, it is currently not always possible to predict which patient will relapse with metastatic disease. Therefore, new predictive markers for metastatic disease are needed and genome wide-screening through technologies like NGS may aid in their discovery.
In 2010, GE Healthcare acquired Clarient Diagnostic Services, a leading player in the fast-growing molecular diagnostics sector specializing in innovative services and diagnostic technologies for the assessment and characterization of cancer. In 2012, GE Healthcare acquired SeqWright, Inc., a provider of nucleic acid sequencing and other genomic services to further add genomics capabilities to Clarient.
The combination of these two businesses places GE Healthcare in a position to apply the power of next- and third-generation DNA sequencing technology to the development of clinical and companion diagnostics, potentially revolutionizing the way healthcare decisions are made.
In September 2011, GE Healthcare announced it would dedicate $1 billion of its total R&D budget over the next five years to expand its advanced cancer diagnostic and molecular imaging capabilities, as well as its world-class technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals and for cancer research.