How Deep Lens Helps Pathologists and Patients Battle Disease

In medicine, pathologists are known as the doctors’ doctors.

Whether the task at hand is to diagnose an individual patient or to study the influence of a particular cell on a specific type of cancer, pathologists are the detectives, the leaders in piecing together the puzzles of disease.

Now, Deep Lens, a Columbus-based spinout with licensed technology from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is bringing one of the world’s first digital pathology cloud-based platforms to make analysis and diagnosis more informed and to empower collaboration between pathology experts from around the world.

Untethering Pathologists from Microscopes and Glass Slides

When we think of pathology, the image that comes to mind is doctors and scientists peering through the lens of a microscope. That’s because pathologists and researchers have been using glass slides and microscopes successfully for hundreds of years to analyze and diagnose disease.

They receive a biospecimen (for example, tissue from a tumor or smears of blood) on the slide (or, more likely, on multiple slides, sometimes boxes of twenty or more). They insert the slide under an upright microscope and use knobs on either side to zoom in and out to complete their analysis. Sometimes they need another opinion, and that means mailing a slide to an expert located somewhere else.

With Deep Lens, those slides are converted to digital images and then electronically sent to the pathologist. The slides can then be viewed on a computer laptop, or phone without needing a microscope or another instrument.

Helping Patients, Pathologists, and Physicians Work Together

If you’ve ever had a test in a lab, you know what it’s like to wait for the pathologist’s report. Now imagine that report is part of the diagnosis for your nine-year child who is fighting leukemia. If pathologists using the Deep Lens platform can take the time to treat from three weeks to one, how many children can be helped? How many lives can be saved?

“We are changing the game by leveraging this cloud-based platform not just to share images,” said Simon Arkell, Deep Lens president. “We are using artificial intelligence to create a workflow that helps pathologists be more accurate and efficient in their diagnoses while helping patients get the right treatment, clinical trial, or drug at the right time.”

Imagine all the places in the world where cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment is happening—from international experts in world-renowned cancer centers to technicians peering through microscopes in regional labs.

What if they were all connected? How much would the battle against cancer accelerate as Deep Lens provides the pathologists in the global cancer-fighting community to collaborate with each other based on the type of cancer they are dealing with instead of where they live, where they work, or who they already know.

“Once we proved that pathologists using our platform can see twice as many cases with more accuracy in any given day, pathologists and lab employees open up to this technology,” Arkell said.

A System by Pathologists for Pathologists

Hundreds of pathologists are already using Deep Lens’ VIPER platform, which originated with innovators at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, one of the country’s largest pediatric oncology facilities, and then built out by expert pathology groups from around the world.

Over the last ten years, pathologists from more than 65 major medical institutions have used the platform and provided ideas that helped continually improve the VIPER to meet pathologists’ specific needs.

The founding team at Deep Lens, which includes Arkell, Dave Billiter, CEO, and T. J. Bowen, Ph.D., CSO, came together purposefully to license and commercialize the intellectual property, in partnership with Nationwide Children’s. Each has a unique personal drive to assist in the fight against cancer.

Bowen dedicated his education to the cause and received his Ph.D. in cancer genetics at University of California San Diego. While at Nationwide Children’s, Billiter invented technology that can help pathologists research, collaborate on and aid in the fight against cancer. Arkell has for ten years chaired a children’s cancer non-profit in California called Megan’s Wings.

They have different experiences but have come together to “do good and do well” by applying new technology to an industry that is transforming for the good of patients around the world.

With complementary skill sets that span entrepreneurship, cancer genetics, and leadership in innovation, they are passionate about putting groundbreaking technology in the hands of pathologists to bring a level of accuracy and collaboration that can’t happen with a physical slide and a microscope.

“Our passion is to enable a mom, dad, or adult to have easier access to solutions, to help connect them to the right expert who has seen a tumor type a thousand times,” CEO Billiter said. “We support the big goals of predictive, precise, and personalized medicine. Deep Lens brings information to the fingertips of medical experts and their patients that they don’t have today.”