February 7, 2012 — GE Capital and GE Healthcare announced an investment in Check-Cap Ltd., developer of an ingestible imaging capsule that may help detect colorectal cancer. The investment is being made through the GE healthymagination Fund, an equity fund that makes investments in highly promising healthcare technology companies.
Check-Cap’s ingestible and disposable imaging capsule is planned to have the capability to image the colon in 3-D. The capsule will require neither bowel cleansing before ingestion nor a hospital visit, allowing patients to go about their daily routines without having to alter their activities.
The patient swallows the capsule and takes oral supplements of contrast agent while the device in inside their body. The patient also wears a wristwatch-sized wireless recorder that collects data from the capsule. Once the capsule is expelled, the wrist recorder can be downloaded for a complete picture of the patient’s colon. The company believes the device will be less expensive than current screening methods. Also, since it is less invasive, patient-screening compliance is expected to increase with use of this technology.
“Check-Cap’s technology is not only innovative but it presents great promise to change the standard of patient care and to help them avoid the discomfort of traditional colonoscopies,” said GE vice president and GE Healthcare chief technology officer Mike Harsh.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Almost 60 percent of the cases occur in developed regions. About 608,000 deaths from colorectal cancer are estimated worldwide annually, accounting for 8 percent of all cancer deaths and making it the fourth most common cause of death from cancer. In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third most common and the second leading cause of cancer death.
In addition to the financial investment and as part of a broader collaboration, Check-Cap and GE Healthcare have entered into a development and supply agreement where GE Healthcare–Israel will develop, design and produce miniature cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) diagnostic imaging sensors inside each Check-Cap capsule to enable clinicians to obtain full 360-degree imaging as the capsule travels in the colon. Similar technologies have been used in GE Healthcare’s nuclear medicine and bone densitometry systems.
Check-Cap plans to introduce its ingestible imaging capsule in the European Union in late 2013, subject to CE mark regulatory approval. The company also is in discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning appropriate clinical activities to support approval to market the product in the United States.