PRINCETON, N.J.—GE Healthcare is joining forces with JanssenPharmaceutica NV to research methods of detecting Alzheimer's in patients—evenbefore they begin to exhibit symptoms of the devastating disease.
The terms of the deal between Johnson & Johnson'sJanssen unit and GE Healthcare were not disclosed.
The research effort isexpected to combine the two companies' expertise in data integration,informatics, genomics and imaging.
According to Pascale Witz, president and CEO of medicaldiagnostics at GE Healthcare, the goal of the collaboration is to find abiosignature that may enable the detection of Alzheimer's disease before theonset of clinical symptoms.
"GE Healthcare has a global commitment to advancing clinicalknowledge and providing innovations that may accelerate diagnosis ofAlzheimer's disease and transform patient management," says Witz.
Witz also points out that finding a biosignature,essentially a collection of biomarkers, that identifies people at risk from thedisease would enable physicians to make more informed decisions about patientcare.
"Importantly, it might also accelerate the development ofsuccessful treatments for the disease," she says.
"We strongly believe thatthrough this research collaboration, we can bring together our competence andexpertise to build this biosignature."
Moreover, the collaboration can serve to enhance GEHealthcare's existing portfolio for Alzheimer's. The company currently hasPhase III trials underway for its amyloid PET imaging compound Flutemetamol.
"We have a global commitment to advance the clinical knowledge,and we believe this collaboration is one more investment we are making in alarge portfolio we have already to try to accelerate the diagnostics ofAlzheimer's disease, and therefore transform patient management," Witz pointsout. "The ability to identify the disease early and do something about it isgoing to be tremendous. We know that this is a very complex disease and addingone more area that we can look for early detection biosignatures makestremendous sense for us in how we can help patients."
Researchers think amyloid—a protein that forms clumps in thebrains of people with Alzheimer's—may begin to accumulate in the brain decadesbefore Alzheimer's patients show symptoms.
Having PET scanners identifying betaamyloid, experts say, could be another weapon in early detection.
"The underlying pathologies associated with Alzheimer'sdisease, such as the formation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in thetissues of the brain, can precede the onset of memory loss and other clinicalsymptoms by decades," Dr. Husseini Manji, J&J's global head of neuroscienceresearch & development, says in a statement.
Witz also notes that statistics indicate that there will bea growing need in coming years to battle Alzheimer's disease.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, deaths attributedto the disease have increased by more than 46 percent between 2000 and 2006.Today, in the United States alone, 5.3 million people have Alzheimer's disease,and the annual cost of the disease is $172 billion. It is the sixth leadingcause of death, and its mortality rates are expected to rise as the baby boomerpopulation ages. In the 2009 World Alzheimer Report, Alzheimer's Disease International estimated thatthere are 35.6 million people living with dementia worldwide in 2010,increasing to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.
Janssen in oncology deal with PRECOS
NOTTINGHAM, U.K.—Janssen also recently announced a serviceagreement with Preclinical Oncology Services Ltd. (PRECOS), a preclinicalresearch and development service provider with a focus on oncology.
The globalcontract will see PRECOS provide clinical tumor material, tumor modeldevelopment, target validation and drug efficacy work to support Janssen'soncology drug discovery, development and biomarker programs.
PRECOS was launched as a spin-off from the University ofNottingham in
August 2010. The master services agreement is aconsolidation of a working relationship between the two companies that wasfirst established with the university more than five years ago.
"This global contract further strengthens the long term relationshipbetween PRECOS and Janssen and consolidates PRECOS' evolution from a primarilyacademic background into an ambitious commercial entity, offering significantscientific expertise and delivering highly specialist services in thedevelopment of new anti-cancer drugs," says PRECOS Chief Scientific OfficerProf. Sue Watson.