Philips and LabPON to create world’s-largest pathology database


Database provides pathologists with clinical information for development of algorithms for pathology education

Royal Philips and LabPON have announced plans to create a digital database of massive aggregated sets of annotated pathology images and big data utilising Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution.

The database will provide pathologists with a wealth of clinical information for the development of image analytics algorithms for computational pathology and pathology education, while promoting research and discovery to develop new insights for disease assessment, including cancer.

Deep learning algorithms have the potential to improve the objectivity and efficiency in tumour tissue diagnosis.

In recent years, ‘deep learning’ techniques for image analysis have quickly become the state of the art in computer vision and has surpassed human performance in a number of tasks.

The challenge for executing deep learning techniques is having access to a database with sufficient high-volume and high-quality data from which to develop the algorithms.

As one of the largest pathology laboratories in the Netherlands, LabPON will contribute its repository of approximately 300,000 whole slide images (WSI) they prospectively create each year to the database.

This will contain de-identified datasets of annotated cases that are manually commented by the pathologist, and will comprise of a wide variety of tissue and disease types, as well as other pertinent diagnostic information to facilitate deep learning.

“Deep learning focuses on the development of advanced computer programmes that automatically understand and digitally map tissue images in considerable detail: The more data available, the more refined the computer analysis will be,” said Peter Hamilton, group leader of image analytics at Philips Digital Pathology Solutions.

“Together, LabPON and Philips have the competence and skills to realise this.”

During a time where the pathologist shortage is mounting and cancer caseloads are increasing, the accurate diagnosis and grading of cancer has become increasingly complex, placing significant pressures on pathology services.

Technologies such as computational pathology, could help pathologists with tools to work in the most-efficient way possible.

Alexi Baidoshvili, pathologist at LabPON, said: “The role of the pathologist remains important by making the definitive diagnosis, which has a high impact on the patient’s treatment.

“Software tools could help to relieve part of the pathologists’ work such as identifying tumour cells, counting mitotic cells or identifying perineural and vaso-invasive growth, as well carrying out measurements in a more-accurate and precise way.

“This ultimately could help to improve the quality of diagnosis and make it more objective.”

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Next to the development of computational algorithms for diagnostic use, Philips intends to make available the database to research institutions and other partners through its translational research platform. This could enable selected parties to interrogate and combine massive datasets with the goal to discover new insights that ultimately could be translated into new personalised treatment options for patients.