Digital pathology and the big Cs (that’s ‘cancer’ and ‘cloud’)

Analysing slides through a microscope is 'archaic'


Distributing digital pathology data

Proscia’s aim is to collect digitised biopsy images, store them in the cloud, and make them available to pathologists with facilities for sharing images and annotating them.

Storing images in the cloud is crucial, with co-founder and CTO Coleman Stavish saying: "We discovered many hospitals with IT infrastructures that were completely deficient in their ability to handle the memory burden required to store thousands, or in many cases millions, of whole slide images.”

The aim is also to bring machine learning (artificial intelligence) to bear on biopsy analysis to get more accurate analysis of the images.

West says: “Our software can discover and process millions of critical data points that will help pathologists and healthcare providers to diagnose, treat and ultimately prevent cancer.”

David West Sr was until very recently SVP for world-wide marketing and business development at CommVault. We asked him how Proscia was funded: “A lot of sweat-equity from David Jr and his colleagues. I have provided all the financing over the last year to get Proscia through proof of concept, beta and first release (and all the early stage ‘corporate’ stuff). There are 10 people working on Proscia. We will be raising outside capital later this spring.”

Customers include hospitals, academic research institutions, commercial pathology labs, as well as pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Proscia says "image analysis and machine-learning technologies in the company’s technology pipeline will allow for unprecedented big data informatics in the industry.” A blog section on Proscia’s website provides videos and text if you want a deeper dive into what it does, and wants to do.

Watson

It’s competing with IBM’s heavy-hitting Watson initiatives, one of which is cancer diagnosis and treatment advice.

That involves Watson looking at patient records, medical journals, textbooks, and more. IBM says that "Watson ranks identified treatment options and provides links to supporting evidence for each option to help oncologists as they consider treatment options for their patient".

Watson does not provide a digital biopsy store, collaboration and analysis service though. Suppose Proscia could analyse digital biopsies and then link to Watson for oncology? Just a thought guys.

Proscia is not your average storage startup. Its undertaking is worthwhile and could produce literally life-changing decisions using digital images stored in the cloud and applying Big Data analytics to them using its own algorithms.

There’s a long way to go but it sure looks like peering through a microscope’s eyepiece to gaze at stained tissue on a glass slide is on the way out for everyday biopsy analysis. Digital pathology rules, okay! ®

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