Attending Pathology Visions this week in San Diego. The meeting started with several texts and e-mails telling me "Urlacher out for the season". As much as any loss to Green Bay stings, Urlacher's loss may be significant.
This meeting continues to grow and the content and speakers have been excellent. Keynote by Dr. Reuter from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center I think was an excellent choice and hit upon several key points. One of the other highlights of yesterday was a talk about Kalmar's (Sweden) experience with full digital adoption in a busy clinical laboratory. I had heard about this lab in Sweden scanning slides 24/7 and their experience but did not realize one of the key drivers to their going full digital – ergonomics. This is one use case but perhaps improved ergonomics will continue to be another deliverable. More to follow in the next week and beyond on the meeting following sessions today.
Omnyx is not exhibiting at the meeting but has signed on with the Digital Pathology Association to help foster and grow the digital pathology industry through this meeting as well as other activities but they did release this message yesterday:
PITTSBURGH–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Omnyx, a joint venture of GE Healthcare and The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has announced the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued patent no. 7576307 covering dual image sensors for rapid autofocusing. This technology, which was pioneered by scientists at GE Global Research, serves as a key technology innovation for Omnyx. Omnyx is the sole license holder to this digital pathology technology and is incorporating it into its whole slide scanners to achieve high image quality while breaking through the current barriers in scanning speed. Products containing the digital pathology technology currently are in development, and are not commercially available.
The patent covers a system that uses two image sensors in a digital microscope, with a primary sensor for acquiring images at a fast rate and an auxiliary sensor that surveys focus data at a faster rate. "Traditional digital pathology systems use only one sensor to perform both tasks. This new concept uses two sensors which allows the whole process to be faster while still taking a huge amount of focus points, thereby creating high quality images at a faster rate," said Michael Montalto, PhD, Vice President of Instrument Development for Omnyx. "Although the concept seems reasonably simple, it requires sophisticated timing algorithms between the two sensors and light source, all while in continuous motion."
"It took us several years in the concept feasibility phase just to prove we could acquire a high quality image at a fast speed," said Robert Filkins, PhD., co-inventor and digital pathology program leader at GE's Global Research Center. "The technology allows for image acquisition to be 2 – 4 times faster than existing technologies."
"Speed is a significant advantage in high volume pathology labs," said Gene Cartwright, CEO of Omnyx. "Fast throughput increases the flow in the lab and reduces turnaround time to the pathologist. It also cuts down on the number of scanners needed to digitize large volumes of slides."
Larger laboratories, like those at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, can process over 1 million slides per year. Dr. George Michalopoulos, Chair of Pathology at UPMC commented, "The innovation at Omnyx is impressive. Their ability to simultaneously address acquisition speed and image quality sets them apart in the field of digital pathology. The faster the scanner, the fewer scanners needed which can reduce the costs of an over-all digital pathology system. However, quality is paramount and this concept allows for both."
Omnyx is a joint venture of GE Healthcare and The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The company is developing an enterprise platform to transform the scope of pathology to an all-digital workflow. The company will sell their digital pathology platform to clinical labs and offer an enterprise software platform for image management, workflow automation, image analysis algorithms and system integration along with its high speed whole-slide scanners. Close collaboration with pathologists at UPMC and other institutions along with their relationship with GE Healthcare allows Omnyx to focus its innovation on the needs of anatomic pathologists worldwide. Omnyx digital pathology products are currently in development and have not been cleared by the FDA.