GE’s (NYSE: GE) Healthcare unit announced yesterday that it has expanded an existing license agreement with biopharmaceutical company Geron Corporation (NASDAQ: GERN).
The license was originally achieved in 2009 and covered the development of cellular assays and models derived from embryonic stem cells; the expanded version grants GE Healthcare exclusive global rights to Geron’s intellectual property and knowledge for the development and commercialization of cell assays derived from induced pluripotent stem cells.
The financial terms contained in the agreement were not revealed. GE Healthcare is presently involved in developing human cell-based assays and models for use in drug discovery and predictive diagnostic toxicity screening. Such biologically relevant and predictive cell models will be crucial to reduce the increasing cost of drug manufacturing while also advancing the safety and efficiency of drugs.
The company had previously launched Cytiva cardiomycocytes in 2010, heart cell assays that help pharmaceutical companies by identifying drug candidates that show toxic effects, much earlier in the discovery process than hitherto possible.
GE Healthcare intends to launch Cytiva hepatocytes (liver cells) for similar purposes, and it is collaborating with the Beijing Genomic Institute on the project.
From GE’s press release:
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.”