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Fight against breast cancer with innovative tests and biochips

Siemens Healthcare chooses Cologne as the new site for its molecular diagnostics research in Germany Siemens Healthcare has established new research laboratories for molecular diagnostics in Cologne, Germany.

The focus of the research will be on "breast cancer", a disease that remains the number one cause of death among young women despite the large number of therapies currently available.

Almost 40 Siemens employees have been developing new diagnostic tests to help the treating physician find an individually optimized therapy for as many patients as possible, thus combining better chances of recovery than are now offered by today's medical state-of-the-art technology, with reduced side effects. In addition, Siemens has been researching innovative biochips to enable clinics to perform the newly developed breast cancer tests.

The problem with treating breast cancer: Until now, it has not been possible to predict the individual effectiveness of the various breast cancer therapies currently available. It therefore cannot be ensured that each patient will receive the therapy that is optimal for her. In order to improve this situation, 40 Siemens employees in Cologne have been developing innovative diagnostic tests which can be used to precisely describe the molecular characteristics of a patient's tumor cells. The results should help the treating physician adapt the therapy to the individual patient.

In addition, Siemens has been researching innovative biochips at its Cologne laboratory with which the newly developed breast cancer tests can be performed. Biochips can perform hundreds, and in extreme cases hundreds of thousands, of diagnostic tests simultaneously. Many different tumor characteristics must be investigated in order to identify the possible of various therapies. Biochips are therefore especially suitable for performing a high number of required tests both fast and efficiently.

"Siemens Healthcare chose Cologne as the new site for its molecular diagnostics research in Germany because this city is one of Europe's leading competence centers in the field of biomedicine", said Donal Quinn, Chief Executive Office of the Diagnostics Division of Siemens Healthcare. "Viewed from the perspective of Siemens, a medicine that is more strongly based on molecular medical and knowledge-based techniques will be able to make important long-term contributions toward improving the quality and increasing the efficiency of healthcare."

Breast cancer causes death among women, more often than any other cancer. Over 150,000 women are treated for breast cancer in Germany every year. More than 17,000 of them die from this disease annually.1

For this reason, not only quality-tested early detection of breast cancer, but also individual therapies ensured by reliable diagnostics are important. Siemens Healthcare has therefore developed comprehensive solutions for the early detection and treatment of breast cancer under the name "Breast Care Solutions". These solutions comprise a combination of different imaging techniques including ultrasound, mammography and magnetic resonance imaging, which are now supplemented by innovative laboratory diagnostic tests and DP based evaluation systems.

Background information:

Molecular diagnostics Today molecular diagnostics primarily concentrates on the early detection and characterization of infectious diseases. Moreover, it also holds an enormous potential for enabling the early diagnosis and optimal selection of a customized therapy for each patient in order to combat other diseases, e.g. cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Even today, many illnesses are detected relatively late, thus reducing the chance of recovery and increasing the cost of treatment considerably. Moreover, due to a lack of suitable test procedures, it is only seldom possible to predict with certainty whether or not a patient will respond to a particular therapy. In many cases, physicians must try multiple therapies in order to find the right one. This puts a strain on patients, can jeopardize the success of the therapy, and also results in additional costs.

This is where molecular medicine comes in. It seeks a better understanding of the causes and relationships of illnesses at the molecular level and integrates the results in knowledge-based applications. These applications combine information obtained from different diagnostic techniques and compare these results with reference data obtained from large populations. This should make it possible to diagnose impending illnesses in a very early stage and, ideally, prevent them altogether or, if the disease has already broken out, choose the proper therapy in a more purposeful and individualized manner.

Siemens Healthcare is one of the world’s largest suppliers to the healthcare industry. The company is a renowned medical solutions provider with core competence and innovative strength in diagnostic and therapeutic technologies as well as in knowledge engineering, including information technology and system integration. With its laboratory diagnostics acquisitions, Siemens Healthcare is the first fully integrated diagnostics company, bringing together imaging and lab diagnostics, therapy, and healthcare information technology solutions, supplemented by consulting and support services. Siemens Healthcare delivers solutions across the entire continuum of care – from prevention and early detection, to diagnosis, therapy and care. Additionally, Siemens is the global market leader in innovative hearing instruments. The company employs more than 49,000 people worldwide and operates in 130 countries. In the fiscal year 2007 (Sept. 30), Siemens Healthcare reported sales of €9.85 billion, orders of €10.27 billion, and group profit of €1.32 billion.

1 Federal Statistical Office, Germany, March 2007

Marion Bludszuweit | Siemens Healthcare
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