New lab test market could open up if research findings lead to a useful clinical laboratory test that predicts prostate cancer recurrence
Over the past decade, clinical laboratory tests that can predict the occurrence or recurrence of breast cancer have opened up a profitable market for the companies that developed these technologies. Now, new research may become the basis of a useful medical laboratory test that could be predictive of prostate cancer relapse.
Of course, pathologists know that several years of further development and regulatory approvals will be needed before this research produces a lab test for clinical use that can reliably predict the recurrence of prostate cancer. What makes this development exciting is that there is a huge and untapped demand to help men with prostate cancer and their physicians make informed decisions about treatment options and long-term prognosis. (more…)
Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists have an opportunity to expand the presence of laboratory medicine
IBM (NYSE: IBM) recently issued a press release announcing its new Watson Healthcare Advisory Board (WHAB). The board is comprised of healthcare leaders with a broad range of research, medical and business expertise. Unfortunately, that expertise does not include pathology or specialists in laboratory medicine.
“Watson represents a technology breakthrough that can help physicians improve patient outcomes,” said Herbert Chase, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine (in Biomedical Informatics) at Columbia University, in a recent IBM press release. “As IBM focuses its efforts on key areas including oncology, cardiology and other chronic diseases, the advisory board will be integral to helping align the business strategy to the specific needs of the industry.”
Dark Daily recently caught up with Michael J. Becich, M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is the Course Director of the upcoming APIII conference on anatomic pathology informatics and imaging support for translational medicine and an international expert on the digitization of anatomic pathology.
We queried Dr. Becich about his views on the three most important new developments in pathology informatics. Because he is on cutting edge of new technologies and applications, his insights can cue pathologists about what is likely to change in the way anatomic pathology groups capture information and report it to referring clinicians.
Number one on Becich’s list is the continued deployment of synoptic reporting. Synoptic reports are structured, textual reports with coding and standards built in. Laboratory Information System (LIS) vendors continue to push this feature and it is enabling laboratorians to data mine from pathology reports. This development is important because, “For years, pathologists dictated reports as large blocks of text and valuable information was locked inside those reports,” observed Becich. “Now, with synoptic reports, that valuable information is directly accessible.”
Next on Becich’s major list of trends is the continuing development of whole slide digital imaging. Radiology has been converting to digital picture archiving systems (or PACS) for some time. Now, pathology is moving down the same road, with glass slides being converted to digital files. This development is important because “pathologists frequently must transport slides around to numerous locations and it is often difficult to share a glass slide with others. Digital slides provide a cost-effective way to easily and instantaneously share slides and improve patient safety,” said Becich. He also pointed out that digital slides offer the opportunity for pathologists to work from a totally-digital and analytical desktop. One major benefit is that it makes it easier for pathologists to more widely distribute information to patients and stakeholders who want it.
The third development on Becich’s radar screen is quantitative image analysis. Pathologists now have computer algorithms that assist them in the interpretation of images. This is particularly important for immunohistochemistry. Billing codes are now available that pathologists can bill for (if they choose to) use these computer-assisted devices. “This trend is important, said Becich, “These computer algorithms enable a pathologist’s digital desktop to provide high-volume, high-throughput quantitative analysis. In the era of personalized medicine, the qualitative evaluation (1+, 2+, 3+ method) is not sufficient for the interpretation of immunohistochemistry.”
Laboratorians interested in learning more about these trends should attend the APIII conference. It will take place on September 9-12, 2007 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Marriott City Center Hotel.