Royal Philips Electronics and NEC Corporation earlier this week announced the signing of an agreement under which the two companies will jointly develop and market highly integrated digital pathology solutions. Based on Philips’ new high-throughput pathology slide scanner and NEC’s e-Pathologist Cancer Diagnosis Assistance System, the solutions will reportedly utilize advanced digital techniques to add quantitative analysis to the qualitative information derived from the visual inspection of pathology slides. They will initially be targeted to assist in the grading of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
The Philips scanner, which is already commercially available only in Europe for research purposes, employs a “continuous auto-focus” technology said to accurately follos height variations in the tissue surface over horizontal distances as short as 30 microns, allowing extremely high definition full-slide images to be captured in under one minute per slide. The e-Pathologist system will use “machine intelligence” to detect tissue and cell features within these images in order to identify regions of interest and make quantitative measurements of key structures in conventionally stained (Hematoxylin & Eosin) tissue samples, or samples stained with immunohistochemistry reagents.
Officials of both companies say such quantitative measurements could assist pathologists in making decisions relating to the clinical treatment of cancer in individual patients. NEC has jointly evaluated this system with SRL, Inc., the largest laboratory test center in Japan, for biopsy of stomach cancer and has also begun to market a system focused on stomach and breast cancer. In addition, NEC has jointly evaluated the e-Pathologist system in conjunction with the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Philips and NEC aim to produce initial development results from their joint development in digital pathology within the current year.