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GE launches $250 million health care tech fund

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GE Healthcare said Wednesday it plans to expand a cancer research partnership with Eli Lilly & Co. designed to target drugs more precisely and speed clinical trials

The unit of General Electric Co. also said it will set aside $250 million for investments in partnerships with health care information technology and diagnostics companies.

Additionally, the company said it purchased certain assets of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner maker ONI Medical Systems Inc. for undisclosed terms. ONI, based in Wilmington, Mass., is privately held.

GE and Eli Lilly announced the health care initiatives in New York.

GE of Fairfield, Conn., said it plans to rework its employee health care plan to emphasize preventative care, the first such changes to the plan in more than 20 years.

The partnership with Eli Lilly of Indianapolis, is focused on scanning cancer cells to determine which drugs will and won’t work by reading proteins in tumors.

Lilly said the staining and scanning technology give a far more precise picture of the make up of the tumor. The companies hope to use the technology in clinical trials starting next summer, speeding up trials of drugs for breast, ovarian and lung tumors and potentially gastric tumors.

The technology has been tested on prostate and colon cancer so far but not used on clinical studies.

GE said it would offer the technology to other biotech companies later.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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