Imaging in its Heyday: Research Applications (Part 1)
This article was originally published in Start Up
Biomolecular imaging is upgrading diagnostic imaging's stodgy reputation as scientists increasingly use it to improve both pharmaceutical research and clinical care. Part I of a two-part series explores researchers' excitement about biomolecular imaging's potential to improve the drug development process. Many companies see research applications as a way to prime the marketplace for clinical applications. But venture capitalists think research is a limited opportunity.
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The adoption of new in vivo molecular imaging agents may eventually follow the current path of in vitro diagnostics, which for some products is shifting from a cost-effectiveness standard for reimbursement toward an evidence-based. But the companies most likely to support the clinical trials that would establish such benefits are only slowly integrating the development of molecular agents into their core businesses. IVD - an area of acquisition interest for these companies -may be the force that transforms them into more biologically minded and innovation-driven entities, and in so doing it may bolster the development of molecular imaging agents.
GE Medical's pending $9.5 billion acquisition of Amersham PLC, while cast in terms of the company's commitment to accelerate progress in personalized medicine, is fundamentally a hard-headed numbers play aimed at maintaining momentum of GE's gargantuan $10 billion medical systems business unit. GE needs healthy businesses oriented towards growing markets to maintain its momentum. And Amersham, with its stable, predictable contrast agent and protein separations businesses fits well into the portfolio. Meanwhile, the personalized medicine play holds mid-to-long term promise.
VisEn Medical's core technology is based on activatable "smart imaging agents" and novel optical systems, including fluorescence-mediated tomography. The ability to visualize reactions and processes in vivo in real time using agents specifically activated by molecular targets, processes, or pathways-the molecular signatures of disease--may lead to breakthroughs that aren't possible with in vitro methods.