Roche this morning revealed that it plans to make a move into personalised medicine for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and, as a consequence, has signed a deal with GE Healthcare, a division of the General Electric company.

In clinical trials, Roche will evaluate the individual effects of an investigational anti-amyloid drug by using GE’s PET diagnostic agent to determine drug response. The technology is able to track beta amyloid levels – a protein believed to be at the centre of Alzheimer’s aetiology and responsible for causing the memory loss observed in patients. This alone is one enormous leap in terms of combating the disease, as previously the presence of beta amyloid plaques could only be confirmed during autopsy.

“This collaboration is an early step in experimental medicine,” said Peter Hug, Roche’s global head of pharma partnering. “Using GE’s innovative technology allows Roche to test the efficacy of our product more accurately than was previously possible, which in the long term, will help us efficiently advance through clinical development, potentially helping patients sooner.”

Both Roche and GE will analyse patient data to determine both the progression of the disease and the efficacy of the undisclosed compound and the diagnostic tool. On the basis of this, the companies hope to file for regulatory approval of their respective products in the coming years.

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 18 million people worldwide suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, a figure projected to nearly double by 2025 to 34 million.