Schering, Philips partner in optical imaging

Dec. 1, 2005
Schering AG and Royal Philips Electronics have formed an alliance to research, develop, and commercialize medical equipment and associated contrast agents for optical imaging.

BERLIN, GERMANY - Schering AG and Royal Philips Electronics have formed an alliance to research, develop, and commercialize medical equipment and associated contrast agents for optical imaging. As part of their collaboration, the companies will have the option to expand the alliance to cover other imaging technologies and contrast agents and will explore the field of molecular imaging. Schering and Philips have agreed to split equally all research and development costs and future revenues from the contrast agents, medical equipment, and services related to this alliance. Financial details of the alliance were not disclosed.

“We are very excited to team up with a leader in the contrast agent industry,” said Jouko Karvinen, CEO of Philips Medical Systems. “Schering has strong capabilities in pharmaceutical R&D, and is clearly out in front in the new field of contrast agents for optical imaging. We also believe this collaboration builds on Philips’ patient focus of coming out with advanced, patient-friendly approaches to preventing and treating serious diseases like breast cancer.”

The alliance’s first development project will combine an optical dye called omocianine (SF-64) from Schering for the diagnosis of breast cancer, currently in Phase I trials, with an enhanced mammography device developed by Philips. Between them, the companies will invest between 50 million and 100 million euros (US$58 million-$117 million) into this project. They also plan to look at how to develop dyes that can potentially target breast tumors at the molecular level. The two firms initially expect the method to replace around 7 million biopsies of suspected cases of breast cancer with the less invasive optical imaging scan, which yields results in two hours instead of two weeks as is the case with biopsies. Eventually, they hope to replace all 78 million annual mammography X-ray scans with the optical scan.

“We expect to be on the market early after 2010,” Hans Maier, head of diagnostic imaging at Schering, told a news conference at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held in Chicago in late November. It is estimated that once products are commercialized, the market for optical imaging contrast agents and equipment will see average annual growth rates of more than 20%.

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