May 7, 2008 - GE Healthcare signed a nonexclusive agreement with Merck and Co. to provide spin signal technology (SST) for imaging of the lungs to help to advance respiratory treatment development, as part of GE Healthcare’s strategy to accelerate the development of new therapeutics.
GE Healthcare’s drug development strategy includes giving pharmaceutical companies access to novel molecular imaging agents to assess the impact of potential drugs in animal models and, when appropriate, human subjects.
Under terms of the agreement, Merck will be granted access to SST utilizing hyperpolarized Xenon 129 gas, a molecular imaging agent that is under investigation by GE Healthcare to provide high speed, quantitative imaging of the lung using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). GE Healthcare originally licensed this technology from Princeton University.
This technology is being evaluated to determine if it can provide more sensitive information than currently available tests on how diseased lungs function, by using xenon, a gas that can be modified with the SST to be detectable with MRI. With this technology, MRI delivers images that may provide clinical value by allowing regional imaging of disease. This information could enhance that provided by FEV1, the volume exhaled during the first second of a forced expiratory maneuver.
"Imaging the lungs has traditionally been challenging for pharmaceutical companies needing to assess the impact of developmental therapies on lung function. This agreement enables the companies involved in this collaboration to assess in real-time the effect of potential therapeutics in animal models," said Jonathan Allis, head of the Global Imaging Network at GE Healthcare.
"With cutting edge molecular diagnostic capabilities across all modalities, GE Healthcare is well positioned to work with pharmaceutical companies to tailor therapeutic assessment programs to further their drug development," said Kim Gallagher, head of External Scientific Affairs in the Medical Diagnostics Division of GE Healthcare. "By joining this development collaboration, Merck will have full access to the SST and hyperpolarized Xenon 129 trial data to monitor its potential and plan for its possible incorporation in therapy trials. We look forward to initiating further agreements with key pharmaceutical companies in the coming year in other disease areas."