Oxford University join with GE Healthcare to study colorectal cancer
27 September 2005
Chalfont St Giles, UK. GE Healthcare and Oxford University will jointly
study the pathology of colorectal cancer, with the aim of achieving earlier
diagnosis and treatment of the disease. The two-year collaboration is the
first to focus on developing a comprehensive disease management program
which will focus on improved staging of the disease using both imaging and
genomic pathology, targeted therapy selection and efficacy assessment, and
overall-treatment monitoring. A major goal will be to create a coherent
picture of a patient's disease and determine the most effective treatment.
The study could act as a model for changing and improving the way a
variety of cancers and other diseases are treated. GE Healthcare will
contribute expertise in genomic and information technologies. Oxford
University will provide clinical data and medical and research expertise.
The project aims to shift the colorectal cancer model from late disease —
discovering diseases late when intervention is costly and less effective —
to early health — predicting disease based on genetic analysis and selecting
treatment customized to the individual. It will study technology to aid in
four major stages of disease identification and treatment — prediction,
screening, diagnosis and treatment.
"The ultimate goal of the collaboration between GE Healthcare and Oxford
University is to redefine the detection, diagnosis and treatment timeline of
colorectal cancer," said Dr. Bill Clarke, Executive Vice President and Chief
Technology and Medical Officer, GE Healthcare. "Better outcomes are
dependent on earlier diagnosis followed by treatment tailored to the
individual patient. This is a holistic and patient-focused approach — one we
believe can have a meaningful and positive impact on people suffering from
this life-threatening disease."
"Medicine today uses empirical data to determine disease; often times,
diseases are detected late — in the last 10% of their cycle — when treatment
is costly and limited," said John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at
Oxford. "This means a 90% window of opportunity to see and treat the disease
has been missed. By embracing preventative screening methods, patients
increase their chances of survival; discovering a disease in its early
stages is vital so that intervention is simple and more treatment options
are available. Early detection and targeted therapy will result in improved,
more effective care for the patient."
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the Western world,
where the annual incidence in Western Europe and America is 370,000;
however, with regular screenings and early action, colorectal cancer is 90%
curable (National Institute of Health).
Once colorectal cancer has been diagnosed, the correct treatment needs to
be selected. Currently, 60% of colorectal cancer patients receive
chemotherapy to treat their disease; however, this form of treatment only
benefits a few percent of the population, while carrying with it high risks
of toxicity, thus demonstrating a need to better define the patient
selection criteria, also according to the NIH.
Today's reliance on symptom-based observation to describe and flag
colorectal cancer would be aided by a better knowledge of the disease and
the patient through genetic analysis, according to Clarke.
"Understanding how and where disease begins provides the opportunity of
better predicting that disease, selecting treatment that is most compatible
with the individual, and starting that treatment at the earliest possible
moment as to increase the chances of survival," said Clarke.