GE Healthcare moves to develop lung cancer Dx

GE Healthcare will license some technology from Insight Genetics to develop a molecular diagnostic test that detects mutations in the ALK gene, an indicator of lung and other cancers.

Financial terms were not disclosed. But the deal calls for a GE Healthcare subsidiary, Clarient Diagnostic Services, to license intellectual property from Nashville's Insight Genetics to develop a test covering the ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) biomarker that would detect abnormalities in the ALK gene. ALK mutations appear to be a factor in non-small cell lung cancer, colorectal cancer and certain breast cancers, among others. GE Healthcare is a division of the conglomerate General Electric ($GE).

The companies note that cancers with an ALK connection are most likely to respond to ALK inhibitors, many of which are under development. A major one has approval so far: Pfizer's ($PFE) Xalkori, a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer tumors that have ALK gene abnormalities. Success could boost efforts to develop ALK inhibitors and also allow their targeted use more often.

Clarient Chief Medical Officer Kenneth Bloom said in a statement that developing such a test would follow guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, which said ALK testing should be standard for all non-small cell lung cancer patients in light of the development of new ALK-inhibition therapies.

GE Healthcare has also been signing deals and boosting efforts in recent months to develop more diagnostics and imaging agents to detect Alzheimer's and other diseases.

- here's the release