GE Healthcare and Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have established a five-year partnership aimed at developing new diagnostic tools to predict how an immunotherapy will work — as far as effectiveness and safety — prior to being given to a specific patient.
This will allow doctors to better treat their patients by avoiding potentially damaging, ineffective, and expensive treatments.
“Immunotherapy offers tremendous promise but given the current unpredictability of some patients’ reactions to treatments, it is also associated with increased morbidity and cost. This partnership provides the opportunity to leverage strengths of both of our organizations to further personalize cancer care by creating new tools that allow clinicians to more accurately predict how patients will respond to a specific therapy,” Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, president and CEO of VUMC and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said in a press release.
Under the agreement, researchers from both organizations will review the immunotherapy treatment response of thousands of Vanderbilt’s cancer patients. They will then create artificial intelligence-powered apps that analyze patients data — including demographics, genomic, and imaging data — helping physicians identify the most appropriate course of treatment for each patient. The app prototype is anticipated by the end of this year.
They will also develop new positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging tracers.
PET scanning can measure blood volume, oxygen usage, sugar metabolism, and drug activity. The method is particularly useful in observing cancerous tumors’ biological behavior, because cancer cells metabolize more sugar than normal cells, so doctors can interpret how aggressive a tumor is or how treatment might affect its growth.
New PET imaging tracers will allow doctors to better select patients for immunotherapy trials, and monitor treatment effectiveness in everyday practice. The technology proof-of-concept is expected by the end of 2020.
GE Healthcare is also teaming up with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center to improve processes related to stem cell transplants.
“GE Healthcare and Vanderbilt will combine their data science, genomic, imaging and cellular analysis capabilities to help improve clinical decision making. This partnership is a great example of the increasing convergence of the tools, technologies and data used by therapy innovators and healthcare providers,” said Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare.