Philips and NEC ink digital pathology agreement

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Royal Philips Electronics and NEC have signed an agreement to jointly develop and market integrated digital pathology technology.

Based on Philips’ pathology slide scanner and NEC’s e-Pathologist Cancer Diagnosis Assistance System, the digital pathology technology will use 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, Philips shared.

Philips, based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, employs continuous auto-focus technology in its slide scanner that follows height variations in the tissue surface over horizontal distances as short as 30 microns, allowing high-definition full-slide images to be captured in under one minute per slide.

Tokyo, Japan-based NEC’s 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 structures in conventionally-stained tissue samples, or samples stained with immunohistochemistry reagents. These quantitative measurements could assist pathologists in making decisions relating to the clinical treatment of cancer in individual patients, the companies explained.

NEC jointly evaluated e-Pathologist with SRL, a laboratory test center in Japan, for biopsy of stomach cancer, and has also started marketing a system focused on stomach and breast cancer. In addition, NEC evaluated its e-Pathologist system with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Philips digital pathology system features an open architecture that allows partners to expand the system’s capability by integrating their own hardware or software algorithms.

Philips and NEC aim to produce initial development results from their joint development in digital pathology this year.