New advances in cancer diagnosis by Coventry scientists


Study reveals how Omnyx Precision Solution can help pathologists to see the small differences in cells, enhancing cancer diagnosis

Scientists in Coventry are now using technology that could revolutionise how some cancers are diagnosed.

A high-tech computer system is able to read samples of human tissue and aid pathologists in the identification of minute changes in cells that can indicate cancer is present.

More than 10,000 slides were examined in the first phase of the study, which shows that pathologists are as good at accurately diagnosing cancer on a computer as they are with a microscope.

The ground-breaking technology has the power to help pathologists grade some types of tumours, including lung, prostate and bladder tumours with precision. In prostate cancer, for example, this could make the difference between someone being offered surgery rather than drug-based treatments.

The computer system, known as The Omnyx Precision Solution, can help pathologists to see the small differences in cells in the same way that they have currently been using a microscope, allowing them to make sound decisions on many aspects of cancer diagnosis.

University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) is the first hospital in the UK to introduce this kind of innovation to its routine practice, meaning it is already benefitting patients.

The Omnyx system digitises slides which are traditionally placed on a microscope so that pathologists can look at them on a computer. Once on the computer, the UHCW scientists have written programmes which will separate normal from abnormal samples.

Dr David Snead of UHCW said: “I am delighted that we have led this ground-breaking study. This provides even-greater evidence that digital pathology really works, and works well. The introduction of digital pathology has fantastic potential benefits for patients. We can expect to be able to read samples more quickly than before, and the big advantage is that we can use the computer to easily manipulate an image or its data. For some patients, this additional information may change how their disease is managed.”

Mamar Gelaye, chief executive of Omnyx, added: “Dr Snead and his team have made a significant contribution to showing the value of digital pathology for both clinicians and patients.

“We are only at the beginning of harnessing the benefits of digitising pathology services, and we look forward to working with institutions like University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust to achieve even greater progress in delivering more-accurate and efficient cancer diagnoses.”

Dr Snead is now working with the world-class team of computer scientists led by Professor Nasir Rajpoot at the University of Warwick to develop the next generation of image analytics to use with this technology.

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