GE and VUMC partner to make cancer immunotherapy safer and more precise

Five-year collab will yield new AI apps and PET tracers

January 08, 2019
by Lauren Dubinsky , Senior Reporter
GE Healthcare announced a five-year partnership on Sunday with Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) in Tennessee to develop diagnostic tools that will enable safer and more precise immunotherapy cancer treatment.

"We hope this collaboration will allow us to use data we already have to better predict which patients will have side effects from their cancer treatment and what those side effects will be,” Travis Osterman, assistant professor at VUMC, told HCB News. “With that information, we will be better able to tailor the best treatment for each patient.”

Although immunotherapy can be more effective than conventional cancer treatment options, it’s typically associated with low response rates and severe side effects, according to Cancer.Net.

GE and VUMC plan to study the immunotherapy treatment response of thousands of VUMC cancer patients using their demographic, genomic, tumor, cellular, proteomic and imaging data. That information will then be used to create artificial intelligence applications that can help physicians identify the best treatment for each patient.

“This is a hugely important area and there is work ongoing, but no one has yet been able to solve the patient stratification, response monitoring and toxicity prediction issues with immunotherapy,” a GE spokesperson told HCB News. “We think this partnership will contribute significantly to address these challenges.”

GE and VUMC also plan to develop new PET imaging tracers that can be used along with the AI applications to assist physicians in stratifying cancer patients for clinical trials. Research found that it currently takes two years on average and costs nearly $2 billion for a drug to come to market, because oftentimes the wrong patients are recruited for immunotherapy trials

The first PET proof-of-concept will be available by the end of next year and the hope is that it will solve this inaccurate trial recruitment issue.

In addition to all of this, GE and VUMC, which is a world-renowned stem cell transplant facility, are also teaming up to improve stem cell transplant processing operations. They plan to do so by automating processes, digitizing workflows, improving throughput and industrializing operations.

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