The five-year plan will see GE spend $1bn (€731m) of its R&D budget on the development of new bioreactors, purification platforms and characterisation systems as well as on the further expansion of its diagnostics, molecular pathology, biomarker and molecular imaging businesses.
Nigel Darby, VP of Biotechnologies at GE Healthcare Life Sciences told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “At this stage, we’re not breaking down the $1bn investment by project.
"However, life sciences and new technologies for the manufacture of biopharmaceuticals such as the new cancer therapeutics is a key focus for GE Healthcare.
Dr Darby cited the global market for protein-based therapeutics, which is growing at 8.2 per cent a year and predicted to be worth $160bn by 2013 according to BCC Research, as an important driver for the investment and as a ‘major growth opportunity.’
“Our vision is to help manufacturers of biopharmaceuticals... to bring their products to market quicker to increase the productivity of their manufacturing process and to lower the barriers to entry. This is particularly important for the newer entrants who may not have the capacity or expertise to optimise their manufacturing process.
He also highlighted GE’s planned acquisition of cell culture media manufacturer PAA Laboratories as another example of the firm’s commitment to the biomanufacturing market.
“In August we announced our intention to acquire PAA Laboratories, a provider of cell culture media, so that we can begin to offer these manufacturers a much more integrated offering. We will be focusing our cancer investment on technologies and services that align with this overall vision.”
News of the investment also follows just weeks after GE signed a deal with Sartorius Stedium Biotech (SSB), which saw the firms exchange licenses for various patents key to their respective biomanufacturing technology offerings.
The unveiling of the biomanufacturing investment plan coincides with the launch of ‘Healthymagination,’ a project supported by GE and other investors designed to accelerate innovation in early diagnosis, patient stratification and personalized cancer therapies.
The $100m project’s initial focus is breast cancer, with the elucidation of novel disease pathways and the classification of tumours being the first ‘challenges’ that have been set out for businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and research students.