Doctor reading test results
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Biotechnology companies Agilent Technologies Inc. and Visiopharm will be joining forces to promote their histology assays for cancer patient testing and pathology. By working together to market their complimentary products—artificial intelligence (AI) technology to interpret pathology results—both companies hope to create a superior product in the field of cancer diagnosis. They also hope to improve the standardization of these tests and the accuracy of diagnosis in patients.

Both companies recently announced they have entered a co-marketing agreement at the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) 109th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA, and plan to co-market Visiopharm’s portfolio of artificial intelligence-driven pathology solutions in the field of cancer diagnosis.

Based on a joint vision of end-to-end quality and standardization of tissue diagnostics, the partnership will address the currently unmet needs of pathology labs around the world. The companies’ shared goal is to provide specific technologies, products, and services that will improve the standardization of pathology labs and accelerate accurate diagnoses.

“The transformation into next-generation precision pathology is important to realize the full potential of tissue pathology in this dawning era of personalized medicine,” said Michael Grunkin, CEO of Visiopharm. “This transformation requires a holistic approach to standardization along the entire diagnostic journey from biopsy to diagnosis. We are excited to be working with Agilent on precisely that. With their complementary product portfolio and longstanding legacy of innovation and quality in this field, we see a very strong match.”

The use of precision technology in cancer diagnosis is revolutionary in that though an accurate cancer diagnosis, based on the cellular and genomic level, one can determine from a tissue or liquid biopsy sample which specific drug or therapy can be identified to work best for that specific cancer mutation. This approach has shown remarkable results in clinical trials, but in the real world the results are oftentimes not as optimal, particularly when community oncologists do not use the correct genetic screening tests to diagnosis patients before prescribing drugs.

One benefit from this merger will be the simplification of using precision medicine technology in areas were medicinal professionals might not be well trained in their use, and the need for specific genetic tests are necessary. By having two companies that specialize in testing patients for being a candidate for precision medicine and interpretation of those genetic results, it does not eliminate the need for training in precision medicine, but it can help close the knowledge gap. It can also provide physicians with a much needed tool to accurately match patient genetic information with a list of potential drug treatment options.

Visiopharm works in the field of AI-driven digital precision pathology, providing software to leading biopharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations (CRO), academic medical centers, and diagnostic pathology labs all over the world. This technology is in the field of tissue-based research and diagnostics, and uses the latest advancements in artificial intelligence and deep learning. Due to the modern-day complexity of cancer tests and genetic screening, Visiopharm provides a comprehensive, highly configurable, and accurate tissue mining tools for medical and research professionals, saving them time and streamlining the interpretation of results. The company operates internationally with over 900 licenses in more than 38 countries.

Agilent Technologies Inc. is a global leader in life sciences, diagnostics, and applied chemical markets, providing assays that cover the entire laboratory workflow. These products are in the fields of automation, bioreagents, FISH probes, gas and liquid chromatography, immunohistochemistry, informatics, mass spectrometry, microarrays, spectroscopy, target enrichment, and vacuum technologies. This company also has assays in the field of sample preparation and genomics.

For this particular partnership, the assays Agilent provides in the fields of cancer pathology will be used.  Pathology relies heavily on human interpretation of results, as well as expert staining and tissue slide preparation. Using AI software to automate the process will hopefully speed up the process of interpretation and diagnosis.

“This partnership is an exciting step in our shared commitment in the fight against cancer,” said Simon Østergaard, Agilent vice president and general manager of the company’s pathology group. “Agilent’s market-leading portfolio of pathology staining management solutions combined with Visiopharm’s digital interpretation solutions will help facilitate improved patient care and diagnostic accuracy. Together we will tackle some of the most critical challenges faced by pathology labs and pave the way toward the fully digitalized lab of the future.”

The co-marketing relationship will result in offerings that will improve the standardization of pathology labs and accelerate accurate diagnoses for patients. Digital pathology may very well be the future, although many labs have waited to adopt it due to the lack of choices currently available and the expense of adoption. With this effort, the companies’ hope it will enable labs to gradually adopt digital technologies in a flexible and scalable manner.

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