GE Healthcare, the healthcare business of GE (NYSE: GE), announced today that it has expanded its 2009 license agreement with Geron Corporation for the development of cellular assays and models derived from embryonic stem cells (ESC’s) for use in drug discovery and toxicity screening. Under the terms of the expanded license, GE Healthcare obtains exclusive global rights to Geron’s intellectual property and know-how for the development and sale of cellular assays derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). Financial terms were not disclosed.
GE Healthcare is pioneering the development of human cell-based assays and models for use in drug discovery and predictive toxicity screening. As the worldwide pharmaceutical industry seeks to reduce the cost of drug development and to bring more effective, safer drugs to market, the availability of more biologically relevant and predictive cell models is becoming increasingly important. In 2010 the company launched CytivaTM cardiomyocytes (human heart cells), stem cell-based assays that are already helping pharmaceutical companies develop safer medicines by identifying - much earlier in the discovery process - drug candidates that show toxic effects. The company also plans to launch Cytiva hepatocytes (liver cells) for toxicity testing, and recently announced a collaboration with the Beijing Genomic Institute aimed at understanding the underlying genetic variation between ethnically diverse stem cell lines.
Dr Amr Abid, General Manager, Cell Technologies, GE Healthcare Life Sciences said,“Expanding our agreement with Geron is a significant step forward and will help us realise our vision of bringing the benefits of stem cell derived assays and models to pharmaceutical and cell science research. In the immediate term it will allow us to accelerate the development of new technologies and products for our customers in drug discovery. Longer term, by taking a licence from GE Healthcare, the wider industry will also benefit from the ability to use key intellectual property without violating patent rights. This clarity and freedom to operate will, I believe, do much to advance the use of stem cell based assays in drug discovery.”