Founded in 2014 by technologists from Johns Hopkins, the Moffitt Cancer Center, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and the University of Pittsburgh, Proscia is a digital healthcare company with a mission to bring image analysis and big data capabilities to pathology. Proscia’s main focus area is fighting cancer. The company’s vision is to bring computer intelligence to pathology—to organize the world’s pathology information and put it to use fighting cancer. Image analysis and machine-learning technologies in the company’s technology pipeline will allow for unprecedented big data informatics in the industry.
On March 25, Proscia announced the launch of its first-generation software platform. This initial product release provides multi-gigabyte digital biopsy cloud-based storage and leverages the company’s second-opinion collaboration technology.
The Proscia platform employs several key technologies to access, analyze, and share whole slide images with unprecedented speed, accuracy, and quality. “There are tens of millions of biopsies performed annually, analyzed solely by the human eye,” stated David West Jr., Proscia president and CEO. “This is archaic. We built a modern, computing platform that will revolutionize the 150-year-old pathology workflow. Our software can discover and process millions of critical data points that will help pathologists and healthcare providers to diagnose, treat and ultimately prevent cancer.” Proscia’s patent-pending technologies combine multi-tenant cloud computing, image analysis, and machine learning with proprietary algorithms to bring unprecedented computer intelligence to the pathology field.
Key features of the Proscia platform that allow users to drastically improve whole slide image workflows include:
- Secure storage, annotation and collaboration on multi-gigabyte digital biopsies
- High resolution, deep zoom viewing
- Support for all leading whole slide scan formats, as well as static images including Leica Biosystems (Aperio) .svs, .scn, and .tif, Phillips Digital Pathology .tiff, and Roche’s Ventana .bif.
- Seamless integration with third-party storage services, including Dropbox, AWS, and in-house storage systems.
- Enhanced Dropbox integration that enables multi-terabyte image migration to the Proscia platform in seconds
- Tissue Microarray (TMA) functionality
- No cost sign up and use of the Proscia for free up to 20GB of storage.
Following Proscia’s public announcement back in March, Medgadget had a chance to sit down for a short Q&A with Proscia President and CEO, David West, Jr.
Michael Batista, Medgadget: Where did the idea for Proscia come from?
David West, Jr.: The underlying idea that became Proscia began as a project for image analysis using computers to look at biases and quantify those biases. The results we were getting were really very good so we started to explore the image analysis space and found a lot of interest. Even at this early stage we began to realize that what we were doing was bigger than just looking at a biopsy, by taking samples on slides and turning them into digital images, this was something that could revolutionize medicine.
Medgadget: When did this stop becoming a project and start looking like a company?
West: During the Spring of 2014, a few things came together with what we were working on that made us realize there was an opportunity here but, more importantly, the team came together. I met William, our Innovation Lead, in San Diego. He was studying computer science at Stanford and working in this space doing some great work. We realized we could team up to tackle this thing together. Around the same time I brought on Coleman, who I’d known for a long time and was studying computer science at the University of Pittsburgh, as our CTO, and Peeyush, from Ohio State’s biomedical science program, as our CSO.
Medgadget: What cancers are you going after and why?
West: Prostate, breast, and skin cancer. Prostate and breast cancer are some of the most common cancers and represent the leading cause of death both within and outside the US. Personally, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer about 15 years ago, so it was always something I was interested in learning more about. Skin cancer, while not the most deadly form of cancer, has so many samples out there that it represents a ton of data for us to look at and represents a huge percentage of the pathology workflow.
Medgadget: Describe what happens today and how Proscia disrupts/improves on the current model?
West: Right now, pathologists look at biopsy slides and visually try to evaluate the tissue sample. The model is old and error-prone. Our approach is to digitize the images then run an analysis on the digital images providing immediate feedback to the pathologist with more information and insight than they would have been able to perceive with their eye alone.
Communication is also an important part of the platform since even today, pathologists will check with each other to get a second opinion on a biopsy sample. Today, the state of the art is to put an image on a file sharing system like Dropbox, which may or may not be compatible with the other pathologist’s viewer screen. On the Proscia cloud-based platform, you press a button, and the images are immediately viewable anywhere. Through the platform, we’re allowing the kind of communication and collaboration that occurs locally today to be universal.
Medgadget: Where is the platform now and where is it going?
West: The platform began with the ability to move digital biopsy content into a network environment to communicate with other pathologists along with a set of tools. This was where we started, the baseline. We ended up building the analysis part of the platform almost as a side effect. Recognizing what was happening, we took a step back, focused on the analysis, and are now releasing this as part of the platform. Today, anyone can log on and try out the platform. You can upload thousands of biopsies into the platform that anyone in the world with the right permissions can access. The entire platform is secure and HIPAA compliant.
From our users, we hear that the platform creates an incredibly fluid workflow compared to what happens today with tools that make everything extremely easy, intuitive, and sleek.
Moving forward, we are planning on adding on more tools to make workflow even faster and provide greater analytical insight. We have a lot in the pipeline so stay tuned a pathology platform that’s incredibly robust and incredibly efficient.
Link: Proscia homepage…