Advances in digital pathology instrumentation have led to its widespread implementation across biotechnology and pharmaceutical R&D operations. High-resolution digital slide scanning systems have paved the way for whole tissue sections to be rapidly scanned and presented as digital slides to collaborators worldwide, with image quality approaching that of the glass slide. The development of tools to perform sophisticated analysis at the whole-slide level has led to additional applications of this technology. Many large biopharma organizations are routinely using digital pathology for a number of applications including multisite slide sharing, global pathology teleconferencing, and pathologist-to-pathologist consultation just to name a few. While the progress has been significant, there is still much room for improvement for digital pathology technologies to impact translational and precision medicine.
The role of digital pathology in advancing the future of translational medicine
The interdisciplinary approach of translational medicine allows researchers to precisely understand how discoveries and treatments impact each patient. In the context of cancer therapy, a comprehensive understanding of the unique genetic characteristics of tumors and their metabolic pathways are essential to developing drugs that can target individuals with specific genetic composition to deliver a targeted therapy.
The drug discovery and development pipeline to target anomalies at a more personalized level requires concurrent development of companion biomarkers to identify which patient will benefit from the newly discovered drug. In one instance described by Alexander et. al., a digital pathology workflow was used in a retrospective analysis of biopsy samples to identify potential predictive markers for response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in patients with esophageal cancer1. Results of such analyses can be instrumental in developing assays to target biomarkers to track response to targeted therapeutic strategies. This is where powerful digital pathology tools offer immense potential to upgrade research breakthroughs into molecular profiling and subsequent drug development and biomarker validation, accelerating potential therapeutic interventions
Read our analysis on the role of digital pathology in accelerating the drug development process here.
The critical role of a digital pathology platform
The success of translational medicine hinges on the ability of your digital ecosystem to enable you to effectively access and use the available data. A digital footprint of the repositories of tissue samples collected via biobanking are instrumental in conducting translational research that aims to develop personalized therapies. However, research organizations need to implement a true digital pathology platform with robust image management capabilities and an open API to optimize their efforts. The value of investing in such a digital platform is vast and empowers your team to find effective ways to manage your data with benefits like:
- Archiving of digital sides
- Retrieving these for rapid digital review
- Potential to enrich the information with the advancement of technologies in image analysis and computational applications
Concentriq® for Research: Proscia’s solution to accelerating translational medicine
A platform that combines powerful image management with integrated image analysis and AI, Concentriq for Research transforms pathology data into clinically actionable knowledge to help deliver precision and translational medicine. Researchers at multinational organizations are able to use Concentriq for Research to discover novel tissue-based indicators (ie biomarkers) that a patient is likely to respond to a drug. In this instance, biomarker teams can create datasets with tissue/cellular samples from cohorts in Concentriq. Image analysis platforms can be trained or run out of the box to quantify potential biomarkers which can be analyzed for predictive (response) value. Simultaneously, companion diagnostics teams are able to build comparative data bases via real world data sets across technology platforms and inter/intra reproducibility studies across sites/companies using Concentriq for Research. Key benefits delivered via Concentriq for Research for translational medicine includes:
- Data migration / image ingestion: The integration of digital pathology imagery with physical samples and their linked metadata is essential to discovery. Concentriq for Research supports the ability to import metadata en masse and automatically associate the metadata to each image eliminating manual tasks and freeing up researcher’s time.
- Data management and organization: Concentriq for Research is capable of storing large repositories of whole slide images (WSI) with their associated metadata to enable multi-site teams to quickly access their data and design new studies. Users are able to organize their collection of virtual slides, folders, cases, annotations, and other metadata into a repository. A repository can further be organized into groups allowing researchers from multiple groups to collaborate on studies. Furthermore, configurable metadata within repositories allows to standardize operations within organizations.
- Data access: Retrieve the data for rapid digital review. Use global search feature for quick access into data nested within repositories, folders, cases, and images. The data can be viewed in table view with configurable metadata.
- Gather insights: Concentriq for Research provides out of the box bi-directional integration with major third party image analysis software. Furthermore, researchers can harness real world evidence and predictive insights with our open and natively computational platform.
- Archive digital sides: As new predictive algorithms are available, there is potential to harness additional insights from data that may not have been previously possible. Hence, it is vital to have a plan for archival and image life cycle management. Proscia recognizes the value of data and works with you to design a solution based on your organization’s use cases and needs. Furthermore, Concentriq for Research can be used with storage platforms that may provide storage tiering in a way that is transparent to Concentriq.
Key takeaways to transforming translational medicine
Organizations have recognized the value of an integrated approach with strong collaboration and a fluid exchange of information across discovery, clinical development, and commercialization to implement a successful translational medicine program. A robust digital pathology platform is the key to empower these researchers engaged in translational medicine to streamline drug discovery and biomarker validations to enable breakthrough discoveries. Combined with today’s knowledge, future advancements in predictive algorithms have the potential to take image based research to the next level. Together with a powerful image management system, a modern digital pathology software ecosystem is capable of competitively managing and extracting insights from image based research at scale allowing the potential to accelerate therapeutic interventions.
Learn more about Concentriq for Research here.
- Alexander, Brian M., et al. “DNA Repair Biomarkers Predict Response to Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy in Esophageal Cancer.” International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, vol. 83, no. 1, May 2012, pp. 164–171, 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2011.05.033. Accessed 19 Nov. 2021.
- Hamilton, Peter W., et al. “Digital Pathology and Image Analysis in Tissue Biomarker Research.” Methods, vol. 70, no. 1, Nov. 2014, pp. 59–73, 10.1016/j.ymeth.2014.06.015.
- Słodkowska, Janina, and Marcial Garcia Rojo. “Digital Pathology in Personalized Cancer Therapy.” Folia Histochemica et Cytobiologica, vol. 49, no. 4, 16 Jan. 2012, pp. 570–578, 10.5603/fhc.2011.0080. Accessed 12 Apr. 2020.