The scientists at GE Global Research and researchers at Eli Lilly have reported a positive advancement in cancer research resulting from the two companies’ collaboration formed in October 2007.
Reportedly, the research teams have together developed tissue-based biomarker technology that can simultaneously map more than 25 proteins in tumors at the sub-cellular level, an important step in the development of personalised and more effective cancer treatments.
Currently, a diagnosis of cancer and the decision of which therapy to prescribe are based on the histology of the tumor and, in some cases, the expression of just one or two biomarkers inside the patient’s tumor.
The company said that with the new molecular pathology technology developed in GE’s Biosciences laboratories, researchers can now look at a visual map of the tissue sample, seeing a cancer cell’s comprehensive biomarker signaling pathway, and the interplay of signaling networks inside the tumor. To date, the new technology has been tested successfully on colon and prostate cancer tissue samples and is believed to be applicable to all types of cancer.
The company claimed that mapping a tumor’s complex biomarker network could allow researchers involved in drug discovery and the clinicians making treatment decisions to identify the most effective cancer therapies for patients, while avoiding those that are not as effective, saving time, money and providing a better patient experience.
GE and Lilly have announced plans to extend their research agreement to include the study of four Lilly oncology molecules that are currently in the company’s development pipeline. While the technology is expected to help in the analysis of all cancers, the two companies will perform specific investigations in breast, ovarian, lung, and possibly gastric cancers.
Mark Little, senior vice president and director at GE Global Research, said: This new approach to molecular pathology unlocks information that has been hidden from doctors. It was just two years ago that researchers at GE and Lilly set out to discover key protein biomarkers that would predict the likelihood that a medication would be effective in treating certain cancers. Our new mapping technology is designed to bring new therapies to market faster and to make sure that the right patients get the right medicines.
Richard Gaynor, vice president of cancer research and clinical investigation at Lilly Research Laboratories, said: In cancer treatment, information is one of the most powerful tools that a doctor has at his disposal. By identifying multiple biomarkers on a cell by cell basis, physicians will be able to make more informed choices on therapies to prescribe, as well as therapies to avoid, based on a patient’s specific type of cancer. Additionally, we believe that GE’s technology, advanced as a result of this collaboration, may lead to the ability to identify the stem cells within a tumor that we believe control the cancer. In doing so, we may be able to discover even more innovative, targeted therapies for the treatment of patients with cancer.