GE Healthcare joins Australian government on Alzheimer's Dx study

GE Healthcare will team with the Australian government in its push to develop flutemetamol as a viable PET imaging agent that helps diagnose Alzheimer's disease.

The U.K.-based division of the global conglomerate GE ($GE) said it will collaborate with the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on the effort. As usual, financial terms aren't being disclosed here. But the deal calls for GE to let CSIRO use the agent in a massive clinical study designed to seek biomarkers, cognitive characteristics and any other lifestyle factors that could determine the development of Alzheimer's.

"This is one of the most significant and expansive [Alzheimer's] studies on the aging population and we are proud to be a part of it," Pascale Witz, CEO of GE Healthcare Medical Diagnostics, said in a statement.

Flutemetamol has already generated positive early results for GE Healthcare in two Phase III studies that appeared to show a strong link between images generated by flutemetamol-related PET images, and pathology results that pointed to Alzheimer's disease-related beta amyloid plaque.

And GE Healthcare is pushing aggressively ahead on Alzheimer's diagnostics development. Earlier this spring, it signed a deal with the Japanese biotechnology venture Clino focused on developing imaging tracers for tau proteins, which also build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

It has not been easy in the U.S. to develop an approved imaging agent that appears to definitively diagnose Alzheimer's. Competitor Eli Lilly ($LLY) gained limited regulatory approval for an imaging agent after failing to gain a broader FDA indication to use it as a diagnostic aid specifically for Alzheimer's.

- here's the announcement