To commemorate National Cancer Research Month, a team of scientists from GE Global Research, the technology development arm of the General Electric Co., are joined together in a technology “relay race” against cancer. They collectively are driving technologies across the entire continuum of cancer care with the end-goal of improving patient outcomes.
The research and development activities of GE scientists are highlighted in a special video that walks through every stage of cancer patient care from screening, diagnosis, biopsy and staging to treatment, monitoring and remission. During the video, Fiona Ginty, a principal scientist at GE Global Research, summed up the multi-disciplinary team effort underway inside GE’s research labs.
Ginty stated, “There are many stages to the patient’s treatment journey. We have amazing teams here; people from all backgrounds, from biology, chemistry, engineering, optical sciences you name it. A team like that is what is needed in order to create new technology and new solutions for patients.”
Cindy Davis, Therapy Platform Leader at GE Global Research, stated, “We have been looking at cancer from a disease perspective rather than a technology perspective and how do we pull in the different technologies that are needed at each different stage of the patient’s journey.”
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, an estimated 21 million cancer cases will occur worldwide in 2013 alone. At each stage of the patient’s journey, GE scientists are developing new technologies to help more patients emerge cancer free.
Screening – Developing a digital mammography system to enable a 3D representation of a woman’s breast to potentially help clinicians detect cancer earlier.
Diagnosis – Work on a new high-risk screening platform using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), with the goal of providing a more reliable of way of diagnosing women who are at a greater risk of getting cancer early.
Biopsy – Driving advancements in molecular pathology to allow pathologists to see inside a tumor in new ways. GE’s technology is being developed to highlight more than 60 disease markers in a single tissue sample. Standard samples viewed today typically show only one or two markers. These new insights could help determine if a cancer is more or less aggressive and what treatments a patient might respond best to.
Staging – New methods being developed using Positron Emission Technology (PET) imaging to more precisely measure the progress of how a patient is responding to treatment. The goal is to shrink the time it takes to monitor how treatments are going from months to weeks.
Treatment –Exploring ways to bring multiple healthcare technologies together to combat cancer more effectively. GE Global Research has an Interventional & Therapy Lab that is combining X-Ray, Ultrasound, software and analytics and other healthcare technologies to improve how cancer is treated. In addition, GE scientists are developing better tools to support emerging cell therapies being developed and used to treat cancer.
Monitoring – Developing contrast agents for MRI that will allow metabolic activity in the body to be observed in real-time. This could enable doctors to identify the aggressiveness of a tumor and impact the course of treatments.
Remission – Focused on new technologies that can monitor a patient after they have been treated and determine if a cancer has come back much earlier. This could help make the treatment of cancer more manageable.
At the end of the video, Ashwin Wagadarikar, an electrical engineer in the Functional Imaging Lab, concluded, stating, “This race, like any other race, will have a finish line.”