NPIC and Visiopharm collaborate to advance H&E staining standardisation
The National Pathology Imaging Co-operative (NPIC) of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, and Visiopharm, a leading provider of AI-driven precision pathology software, jointly announce a collaboration dedicated to supporting the standardisation of Haematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) staining.
Harnessing their combined expertise, NPIC and Visiopharm are developing an innovative solution that brings together ‘Tango’, NPIC’s tissue-mimicking stain assessment slide, and a fully automated image analysis algorithm developed by Visiopharm. The algorithm will be made available within Visiopharm’s Qualitopix™ platform as part of NPIC’s imminent UK National Stain Survey, where labs can quantitatively measure H&E staining intensity over time.
Staining tissue in histopathology is an important step to allow visualisation of cellular structures, but staining can be variable, and while humans are able to tolerate a wide level of variation, computer analysis can be thrown by this variation. Computational methods can be used to improve AI performance, including colour normalisation, but ultimately these are arbitrary. NPIC’s Tango tool provides an absolute reference, enabling the creation of more consistent data for AI development, with the aim of improving patient care and speed of cancer diagnosis in the future. Not only can Tango help improve AI, but it can also improve stain utilisation in the laboratory, potentially saving costs due to reduced reagent waste.
Dirk Vossen, Chief Diagnostics Officer at Visiopharm, shares: “This collaboration with NPIC signifies an important step towards addressing the root causes of H&E staining variations, which can influence both human interpretation and AI-based assessments in histopathology. Our combined solution, integrating Tango and automated analysis on our Qualitopix platform, offers a much-needed standardisation enabler in the field.”
David Brettle, Chief Scientific Officer at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and NPIC’s Quality Co-ordination Centre lead, adds: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Visiopharm taking Tango, our on-slide H&E stain assessment tool, from the research lab into a viable real-world platform. This work will allow optimisation and standardisation in the laboratory and enable the potential for guidelines and standards to be produced, improving not only the quality of slides, but also the digital image and ultimately supporting effective and efficient AI development and deployment.”
It is anticipated that following validation, the analysis algorithm will become accessible to all Visiopharm customers on the Qualitopix platform, extending its utility and impact within the histopathological community, ready for when the Tango stain assessment slides become commercially available.
The National Pathology Imaging Co-operative (NPIC) is supported by a £50m investment from the Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine strand of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, managed and delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). NPIC is a unique collaboration between NHS, Academic and Industry partners with aims to: deploy digital pathology systems in hospitals across the country to improve pathology services and patient outcomes, disseminate best practice in digital pathology, develop and evaluate AI in pathology, and create a platform for nationwide research and innovation.
NPIC’s Quality Co-ordination Centre (QCC) aims to understand and quantify the variations in digital pathology images, enhance international quality standards and provide resources to encourage high tissue-to-image fidelity and production of high-quality digital pathology image datasets. NPIC’s QCC also want to encourage good practice in the digital pathology community and to drive the quality improvement cycle in digital pathology.
Visiopharm® is a leading provider of AI-driven precision pathology software for research and diagnostics. In research, it is a technology leader providing tools that help scientists, pathologists, and image analysis experts produce accurate data for all types of tissue-based research. In diagnostics, it is a leader within clinical applications, with no less than eight diagnostic algorithms cleared under IVDR for EU and UK customers. These applications provide diagnostic decision support and and can be easily activated and integrated into existing lab workflows.
Founded in 2002, Visiopharm is privately owned and operates internationally with over 750 customer accounts in more than 40 countries. The company’s headquarters are located in Denmark’s Medicon Valley, with offices in Sweden, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States, and local representation in France and China.
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