Partnering with GE HealthCare Technologies Inc. could accelerate Anthony Chang’s vision to provide far greater access to an advanced cancer treatment he launched in Grand Rapids.
Under their new strategic partnership, Chang’s BAMF Health will support the Chicago-based GE HealthCare’s deployment of medical technologies behind theranostics that use advanced medical scanners and radiopharmaceuticals to diagnose and treat cancer patients. In the era of molecular medicine, the emerging technology combines with artificial intelligence software to precisely treat patients.
GE HealthCare in turn can connect BAMF Health to health systems across the country that want to develop a theranostics clinic and can benefit from the company’s expertise with their projects. BAMF’s role can range from consulting with health systems to adopt the use of the medical technology, to operating a clinic, recruiting and training staff, designing and building a facility, and even managing a clinic on their behalf.
The strategic partnership will further BAMF Health’s goal “to make these brand-new technologies accessible and affordable to every single patient who need it as soon as possible,” said Chang, the company’s founder and CEO.
“We know how to use this kind of equipment for this kind of purpose. This gives us a very unique vision about how to put this field forward,” Chang said. “We have the knowhow, we have the technology, GE has the equipment, and GE also has the mindset believing in this technology and they want to share the same mission and vision and try to bring this to every single patient. They have a national network and understand who needs it and who wants it, and how to work with them.”
BAMF Health opened its first theranostics clinic in 2022 at the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building on Michigan State University’s research campus in downtown Grand Rapids. The company began treating patients with stage four prostate cancer and is involved in research and clinical trials to extend into treating other forms of cancer, including lung, pancreatic, brain and neuroendocrine tumors. It also is researching the medical technology’s potential for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
BAMF Health was the first user in the U.S. and second in the world to deploy GE HealthCare’s advanced medical imaging scanner for patient use and first globally to use its cyclotron to produce radiopharmaceuticals to treat cancer.
“We are the frontline soldiers. We advanced this technology a lot. We know how exactly the technology needs to go,” Chang said. “Combine the vision and combine the force (of GE HealthCare) and we’re going to facilitate the field.”
GE HealthCare (Nasdaq: GEHC) is one of the world’s largest medical technology and pharmaceutical diagnostics companies with 50,000 employees. The corporation on Oct. 31 reported $4.82 billion in sales for the third quarter with $375 million net income. Year-to-date sales totaled $14.34 billion with net income of $1.16 billion.
“GE HealthCare’s holistic approach to theranostics brings together critical teams, data and decision-making needed to deliver precise, personalized care for patients,” Catherine Estrampes, president and CEO at GE HealthCare in U.S. and Canada, said in an announcement on the BAMF Health partnership. “Together with BAMF Health we are thrilled to draw upon our shared expertise to advance the adoption and integration of theranostics care.”
Chang believes theranostics can “majorly replace chemotherapy in 10 years” as a cancer treatment and that molecular imaging will “majorly replace” biopsies to diagnose patients.
“That’s the vision we have, that’s the world we see, and that’s the world we want to move toward into together,” he told Crain’s Grand Rapids Business.
The partnership with GE HealthCare runs for seven years, “but we intend to do more,” said Laurie Placinski, vice president for real estate, design and partnerships at BAMF Health. A steering committee “will continue to seek out opportunities to evolve and enhance the partnership, and in turn support the needs of health care,” Placinski said.
Through the partnership with GE HealthCare, BAMF Health can offer health systems a playbook to deploy the technology and develop and operate a theranostics clinic.
In the last few years, GE HealthCare has met with more than 200 hospitals nationwide to discuss theranostics and came away with an understanding that several use the technology on a small scale “but lack the ability to grow larger,” Placinski said. Others do not use theranostics at any level, “but have the interest of incorporating that into their service line,” she said.
“What all of them are lacking is the knowhow to do that incorporation and move quickly,” Placinski said. “So, the reason BAMF is so enticing to GE is because we’ve built this comprehensive playbook and knowhow from a platform perspective to come in alongside GE, who wants to be positioned as a thought leader as well, to work with these systems to enable standing up theranostics whether it’s through the use of technology, build operations, radio pharmaceuticals. That’s really where we’ve developed a kit of parts that can come in and complement and enhance the system, versus compete with the system.”
As the first adopter of GE HealthCare’s scanner and cyclotrons, BAMF Health has become a “market show space” for the corporation that has drawn representatives from health systems and cancer centers from the U.S., Canada, Africa and Europe to learn about theranostics, she said.
“People are coming to see, ‘What is it you’re doing, can we partner, can you help us, what does this look like, can we learn from you?’” she said.
Since opening last year, BAMF Health has treated 400 cancer patients at the downtown Grand Rapids theranostics clinic. The company envisions opening a network of clinics across the country and is engaged in six “active conversations” with potential partners nationwide for additional locations, including in Detroit, Texas and California, Placinski said.
BAMF Health currently is negotiating to acquire property in Detroit for its second clinic, Placinski said.
The company also is working on a $75 million Series C growth capital round. Investors have so far committed more than 65% of the fundraising goal, Chang said.
As BAMF Health pursues the capital round, the strategic partnership with GE HealthCare will help with brand awareness and enhancement, Placinski said.
“This further enhances the conversations we have with potential investors and allows us to further target those,” Placinski said. “It’s credibility and validation.”