According to Bob van Gemen, general manager of Philips Digital Pathology, the partnership will develop integrated digital solutions that enhance the operational efficiency of pathology departments and that also increase diagnostic confidence.
Currently, anatomic pathology workflows to examine tissue samples are based on the microscope, through which pathologists examine tissue sections mounted on glass slides and treated with different stains.
According to Philips, the staining enhances the contrast between, or reveals the presence of, cellular and molecular components such as cell nuclei or specific proteins.
The accurate interpretation of the results is critical to the diagnosis and staging of each individual patient’s disease and requires a great deal of skill and experience.
Digitising the images that pathologists normally view through a microscope may enable the introduction of objective and quantitative image analysis tools.
Dr Clive Taylor from Southern California University said: ‘Digital pathology has been long in gestation, in comparison to radiology, where images also are the currency of practice and where image acquisition, transfer, interpretation and storage is almost entirely digital.
‘In part, this lag is because the acquisition of histopathology images is dependent upon a 100-year-old technique of “tissue fixation”, sectioning and staining. In part, it is because, somewhat surprisingly, fully digitised histopathology images are much larger than CT files and are difficult to manage and analyse.
‘Progress has been slow because there has been no single institution, or company, that embraces both of these areas,’ he added.
A fast pathology slide scanner and an associated image management system form the basis of Philips’ proposed integrated solutions for digitising pathology workflows.
The Philips-Dako collaboration will initially focus on leveraging Dako’s image analysis software for tissue-based breast cancer diagnosis using its reagents for staining HER2, Estrogen Receptor (ER), Progesterone Receptor (PR), p53 and Ki-67 proteins.
The detection and quantification of these proteins in biopsy tissue are highly relevant for the classification of breast cancers and the selection of appropriate therapy.
Philips and Dako will also explore the possibility of extending the collaboration to include image analysis software for immunohistology-based prostate and colon cancer diagnostics.