Digital Pathology. Image Analytics - overview
In histopathology, pathologists assess patient biopsies and tissue resections to study the presence and/or grade of a disease, but also for selecting personalized treatment and monitoring. With respect to other diagnostic technologies, tissue analysis is more invasive, but at the same time provides much higher resolution.
Currently, pathologists assess tissues under a microscope, leading to diagnoses affected by subjective judgment and intra- and inter-observer variability. This is due to the difficulty of the process. The staining intensity in the tissue, as well as the morphological and cellular architecture indicate cancer and many diseases.
“We aim to develop image analytics that can quantify pathogenesis in a high-throughput, bias-free and robust way. ”
—Maria Gabrani, IBM scientist
However, disease susceptibility and progression is a complex, multifactorial molecular process. Diseases such as cancer exhibit tissue and cellular heterogeneities, which impedes differentiation between different stages or types of cell formations. At the same time, the procedure is time-consuming and low-throughput, strained by the number of tissue samples generated per day.
Emerging initiatives to bring hospitals into the digital era are using bright-field and fluorescence scanners to convert glass slides of tissue specimens and needle biopsies into virtual microscopy images of very high quality, enabling digital image analysis.