GE Healthcare is partnering with multiple companies and academic institutions to develop a portfolio of targeted Positron Emission Tomography (PET) tracers to better predict and monitor patient response to immunotherapies. Currently an average of only 20-40 percent of patients respond to immunotherapies, and patient suitability for an immunotherapy is determined by taking limited tissue samples of a tumor. It is hoped that these PET tracers, which would accurately screen immune mechanisms in real-time, would give clinicians a more comprehensive understanding of a patient’s entire tumor environment and its heterogeneity, enabling more successful selection of therapies and earlier and more accurate monitoring of their efficacy. The portfolio contains a variety of tracers which target biomarkers associated both with tumors themselves and the presence and state of T-cells, the subpopulation of white blood cells which typically fight cancers. Three partnership deals have been signed with US-based Indi Molecular for a CD8 T-cell marker, Affibody Imaging from Sweden for a PDL-1 cell expression marker and Australian company AdAlta for a Granzyme-B activated T-Cell marker. Once proof of concept has been reached, the clinical translation of these tracers would initially help improve the success rate and efficiency of immunotherapy clinical trials by enabling more advanced stratification of patient cohorts and in turn increasing speed to market of immunotherapies.
“We know immunotherapies can transform patients’ lives when they are effective, however, low patient response rates, the potential of serious adverse effects and high costs all mean we need to significantly improve how we more accurately predict the efficacy of an immunotherapy,” explains Sanka Thiru, Global Product Leader, Molecular Imaging Oncology at GE Healthcare’s Pharmaceutical Diagnostics business. “If we can do this accurately and earlier in the patient pathway, we can either avoid a particular course of treatment altogether or shift sooner to an alternative more appropriate therapy.”
Earlier this year, GE Healthcare also announced a five-year partnership with Vanderbilt University Medical Center to further investigate the role of PET in the field of immunotherapies. The two organizations will develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered apps and PET tracers to help physicians identify the most suitable treatment for each individual patient.
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