GE unveils suitcase-sized mammography concept

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | September 15, 2011
SenoCase is the size
of a large suitcase (Credit: GE)
General Electric Co. unveiled plans to create a portable digital mammography device the size of a large suitcase at a press conference in New York Thursday.

The company also announced a $100 million partnership with venture capital firms to launch an "open challenge" to fund entrepreneurs building innovations in breast cancer diagnosis, and its aims to bring a contrast media and mammo combo, already out in Europe, to the United States.

The announcements come as the company promises to commit $1 billion to cancer research and development over the next five years. The Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate's executives declare that medicine is poised over the coming decades to turn cancer into a "chronic disease" -- that is, one that becomes manageable, and survivable.

"Cancer lends itself to a systems approach," Jeff Immelt, GE's CEO, said at the conference.

The $1 billion will go towards a range of projects in different fields, including new imaging agents, workflow software, cellular scanning technologies and biomarkers for drug-resistant cancers in development at Clarient, GE's in vitro molecular diagnostic business.

But for a start, the company said it's focusing on breast cancer. And the timing is appropriate: a sobering report out of University of Washington, released the same day as the conference, found that 1.6 million women worldwide were newly diagnosed with breast cancer last year, a dramatic rise from the 641,000 who were diagnosed in 1980.

It's thought that breast cancer kills 425,000 women a year.

"This is going to be a formula where 2 plus 2 equals 5," Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan B. Komen for the Cure, which is partnering with GE on a three-year initiative to expand mammography access, said at the conference. "We're going to get a lot done."

SenoCase

The suitcase-sized digital mammography device, SenoCase, is currently only a concept, and the company still has to get some of its 50,000-odd engineers designing exactly how it will work. But the idea behind it is simple: expanding access.

A smaller unit would have a lower price point, so it's more affordable for rural clinics or health care centers in developing countries. And it could also be carried more easily into such places.
Here's the SenoCase
opened up (Credit: GE)


"You could put it in your car," Anne LeGrand , general manager of GE's X-ray business, told DOTmed News after the conference. "It wouldn't need a special van."

You Must Be Logged In To Post A Comment