Goal is to deliver integrated digital pathology solutions to clinical pathology laboratories
Yesterday, Dako announced separate digital pathology agreements with Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG) and Omnyx, LLC. Both the Philips and Omnyx agreements give each company access to Dako’s proprietary software algorithms and reagents used in tissue analysis for certain cancers.
In the deal between Philips and Dako, Philips plans to incorporate certain of Dako’s image analysis applications to the digital pathology system it is currently developing. Breast cancer is the diagnostic area covered by this new agreement. Philips will get access to Dako’s image analysis software for tissue-based breast cancers diagnosis, in tandem with Dako’s reagents for staining HER2, Estrogen Receptor (ER), Progesterone Receptor (PR), p53 and Ki-67 proteins.
Breast cancer is also the subject of the new pact between Dako and Omnyx. Dako will develop image analysis algorithms based on its expertise in staining and image analysis. These algorithms will be incorporated into Omnyx’s digital pathology platform. In the press release announcing this agreement, the two companies wrote that “The algorithms developed under the agreement will be specifically optimized for Dako’s breast cancer panel of immunohistochemical and in-situ hybridization tests.”
As pathologists know, the detection and quantification of these proteins in breast cancer cases is gaining ever-wider acceptance in clinical practice as a way both to classify breast cancers and to guide therapeutic decisions. Philips and Dako will also consider expanding their collaboration to encompass “image analysis software for immunohistology-based prostate and colon cancer diagnostics.”
These collaborations between Dako and Philips and Dako and Omnyx show how companies that want to compete in the digital pathology marketplace are looking for likely allies. The goals of these respective partners also provide clues as to how the field of digital pathology is likely to unfold.
First, digital pathology companies are looking for ways to develop an integrated diagnostic assay to will offer pathologists greater diagnostic accuracy and reproducibility. In the case of both Philips and Omnyx, their goals seem to be to “fine tune” how their respective digital pathology systems use images and data produced by Dako’s stains and Dako’s software algorithms.
Second, digital pathology companies will concentrate these efforts on the most common cancers. This agreement starts with breast cancer. But, in the case of both Philips and Omnyx, each company is telling investors it is open to collaborating with Dako on additional types of cancer, such as prostate cancer and colon cancer.
Third, convenience, improved accuracy, and increased pathologist productivity will be the key features for diagnostic products designed to be run with integrated digital pathology systems. Digital pathology companies understand that they must provide solutions to pathologists that help them add value to referring physicians and their patients, while working in a more productive manner.
Digital pathology is still an infant trend. The number of anatomic pathology laboratories that own and use digital pathology solutions remains a small number. But experts predict that will change as more digital pathology vendors enter the market and competition brings down the cost to acquire and operate a digital pathology system.