GE to supply Merck with molecular imaging agent for respiratory drug
14 May 2008
GE Healthcare has signed a non-exclusive agreement with Merck & Co.,
Inc. to share technology for imaging of the lungs that may help to
advance respiratory treatment development.
Under terms of the agreement, Merck will be granted access to Spin
Signal Technology (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 manoeuvre.
“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.
This agreement is part of GE Healthcare’s strategy of helping to
accelerate the development of new therapeutics by improving
pharmaceutical companies' access to novel molecular imaging agents to
assess the impact of potential drugs in animal models and, when
appropriate, human subjects.
“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.”