Philips Healthcare is increasing the number of employees in its cancer informatics division in Israel. Dozens of employees have worked in the division since mid-2017, and the company has been expanding this activity and increasing the number of employees involved in it ever since. This measure is designed to boost Philips Healthcare's staff in Israel to 1,000. As of 2016, the company had 114,000 employees worldwide. Since Philips Healthcare acquired Elscint's CT division in 2001, it has quadrupled the number of its employees in Israel.
In recent years, Philips Healthcare has been changing its business focus. Formerly a health, lighting, and consumer products company, it is becoming a company based solely on health, with an emphasis on digital health and online devices, in addition to medical imaging. The proportion of the company's activity accounted for by its informatics division has accordingly been increasing. The head of the company is currently Israeli Yair Briman, who manages its activity worldwide, while Ronen Solomon manages its cancer-related informatics and genetics R&D in Israel. In the context of its cancer-related informatics and genetics activity, Philips Healthcare is cooperating with gene-mapping company Illumina.
Solomon says, "As part of our activity, Philips Healthcare's platform already makes it possible to detect genetic mutations that frequently appear in cancer cells in various types of cancer, such as stomach cancer and breast cancer. We are continuing the development of new genetic tests to detect additional genetic mutations in order to improve results from personalized medicine."
These genetic mutations do not appear in every patient; they appear only in those who have experienced mutations as part of the cancer process. Testing the patient includes a comparison of a cancer cell unique to the patient with an ordinary non-cancerous cell in his or her body.
Genetic mapping for all
Solomon notes that the tests will be carried out by hospitals or special laboratories, and that the company is meanwhile in touch with hospitals specializing in cancer and/or pediatrics.
"The innovative tests make it possible to provide quick results as soon as the laboratory receives the biopsy in order to significantly shorten the time taken up by the test. This is accomplished through Philips Healthcare's new medical cloud services. The doctors order the test directly, and it is carried out on the hospital premises. The doctor obtains the results as soon as they are in the system.
"Our goal is to shorten, improve, and lower the cost of the test in order to realize our vision of having every cancer patient routinely undergo genetic testing for the purpose of finding a personalized treatment."
Currently, in most cases, tests are conducted on only some patients at very advanced stages of the disease, after all of the conventional treatments failed to improve their condition. As the drug industry and regulators approve personalized drugs, and these are added to the basket of products, personalized medicine will become part of the accepted treatment protocol for cancer patients. Solomon says, "In addition, our system facilitates the adaption of clinical trials and innovative treatments, including new genetic mutations and adaption of immunological treatments, based on their genetic findings."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 13, 2018
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