Leica Microsystem acquires Genetix while Omnyx licenses patents from Olympus

More pathology laboratories are acquiring and deploying digital scanners and digital pathology systems. In response to the growing demand for digital pathology solutions, several prominent companies are extending their capabilities in virtual microscope slide technology. Over recent months, an acquisition and a licensing deal provide examples of the intense activity in the digital pathology marketplace.

The acquisition was done by Leica Microsystem, Inc., of Wetzlar, Germany. On March 10th, it announced its acquisition of Genetix, Ltd., based in New Milton, UK. The licensing deal involved Omnyx, LLC, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in an agreement that gives it access to certain patents held by Olympus Corporation. Both of these transactions occurred in March. Each was motivated by initiating the company’s need to further develop its technologies in support of whole slide imaging (WSI) and digital pathology systems.

Leica Microsystem acquires Genetix while Omnyx licenses patents from Olympus

In acquiring Genetix, Leica gained access to a wealth of expertise in software for imaging and image analysis. Genetix has spent the past decade developing or acquiring a broad range of technologies in this area. It is an attractive partner to help Leica transition its microscopes and other anatomic pathology instrument systems to digital platforms.

“Genetix’ software capabilities, specifically in analytical software, will help us to make progress in the area of virtual microscopy, which is a field into which we have only recently stepped,” stated Stefan Traeger, Managing Director, Life Science Division at Leica Microsystems. “In addition, Genetix’ experience in cell biology and genetics will expand our reach into the drug discovery and development markets.”

It was a similar story at Omnyx, LLC, a joint venture of GE Healthcare and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Omnyx approached Olympus and negotiated a licensing agreement that gives it access to the extensive portfolio of Olympus America patents in the field of virtual microscopy and digital pathology. The patents involved in the licensing agreement cover software and technology related to creating, storing, and delivering virtual microscopy images.

“This license will provide confidence to future Omnyx customers who want to know their investments in digital pathology are stable and secure,” said Gene Cartwright, CEO of Omnyx.

Deals such as Leica’s acquisition of Genetix and Omnyx’s licensing agreement with Olympus America validate predictions that progress will be swift in developing technologies that support digital scanning of pathology slides. The market for whole slide imaging and digital pathology systems remains relatively small. For the most part, it is still first-mover pathology groups that are making the strongest investments in capital and human talent to acquire and use these digital pathology tools.

On the other hand, a panoply of companies have already staked out their positions in this emerging market. For example, at the upcoming Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management at the Sheraton Hotel in New Orleans on April 27-28-29, CEOs and executives from six different digital pathology companies will be discussing progress in digital pathology at a special session titled: “Disruptive Technologies in Histology and Digital Pathology.”

This provides a rare opportunity for pathologists and their practice administrators to access all the leading resources and experts in digital scanning and digital pathology systems. Making presentations at this session are (in alphabetical order by company):

To register to attend this special session, which includes an exhibition of digital scanning and digital pathology systems and products, visit http://www.executivewarcollege.com/register.htm

In the field of pathology and laboratory medicine, the widespread adoption of digital scanning and digital pathology systems will forever change the pathology profession. This is radical change and it is happening at a steady pace. Nor should any pathologist overlook the fact that equally radical developments are occurring in genetic medicine and molecular diagnostics.

Dark Daily predicts that the development curves of both of these transformational technologies will bring about a new “golden age” in anatomic pathology. More specifically, the path that radiology followed in converting from film to its current fully-digital standard of practice will be an instructive road map as surgical pathologists transition from viewing glass slides to evaluating fully-digitized images on a computer screen or similar digital device.

Related Information:

Leica Microsystems Acquires Genetix Strengthening Life Science Technologies Portfolio

Omnyx Licenses Olympus Digital Pathology Patents

Disruptive Technologies in Histology and Digital Pathology at the Executive War College

Digital Pathology Coverage by Dark Daily

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