Genetix is paying €3.7 million, or about $4.89 million, in cash and shares for SlidePath, which specialiszs in software for digital slide and life science informatics applications. The deal includes a €2.5 million up-front payment and up to €1.2 million in fees dependent on the achievement of EBIT milestones during 2009 and 2010.
Cell imaging and analysis company Genetix points out that the two companies have complementary core skills that will strengthen its competitive stance in the growing digital pathology market. The acquisition will add technologies that will expedite the biopharmaceutical industry’s drive to develop personalized medicines, suggests Julian Burke Ph.D., Genetix’s scientific director.
“This emerging market will rely on digital pathology and the ability to image slides electronically to identify patients suitable for specific drug therapies.” According to Dr. Burke, the era of the digital slide is approaching, where a pathologist will scan and hold an electronic record of a histology specimen, rather than keeping the sample as a glass slide.
“The issues that are limiting adoption of this approach at the moment are automated analysis of electronic versions of the slide and the ability of the electronic images to be transmitted, shared or stored while maintaining an image resolution that is acceptable to pathologists,” Dr. Burke continues.
“The SlidePath technologies go a long way to addressing these issues. Genetix is in a position to utilize the SlidePath technologies in its current clinical platforms, Ariol™ and CytoVision®, and also to form the basis of new slide-scanning platforms going forward.”
“SlidePath has excellent tools for analysis of histological slides and for integration of histology with other diagnostic results. These tools will also have potential applications in the discovery of biomarkers and protein drug targets. In the future, discovery and translational medicine will require the integration of data from multiple platforms. By combining molecular, cell imaging, and other data sets such as PCR and microarrrays in such a way as to make all the information available to the investigator, the decision making will become more knowledge-based, faster and accurate.
“The SlidePath technologies take us towards this goal. These technologies will also be important in the increasingly collaborative nature of the life sciences, with academic, translational and industrial teams being spread across multiple locations and data sharing becoming a limitation. The lack of these technologies maybe one reason why biology, unlike chemistry, is not often outsourced by pharmaceutical companies to CROs.”
SlidePath is a Dublin City University spin-out, founded in 2003. The company’s products include Distiller, an online laboratory and clinical-data management platform; Digital Slidebox, designed as a complete online pathology resource for digital slide and multimedia management; and Digital Slide Server, for storing, managing, and integrating digital slides.
SlidePath claims Distiller is an ideal data management solution for clinical workflows, biobank information management systems, and the integration and management of omics data. The technology is designed to enable the maintenance of multiple databases of different structure in one system, combining flexible object-oriented datasets, and the ability to easily integrate multimedia files, digital slides and data, and manage large volumes of data generated by high throughput processes. Search functionalities include the ability to perform constrained searches across multiple data parameters, define parameters to output only relevant cohort data, export search results to external applications, and generate descriptive statistics on search results.
Available as a standalone server, Digital Slide Server can also operate within a NAS or SAN storage architecture and simultaneously supporting Aperio Scanscope, Hamamatsu Nanozoomer, and Zeiss Mirax slides through a common high performance viewer interface. Digital Slide Server is provided with a complex URL/XML driven SDK to allow easy integration of digital slides of any format into third party information systems such as HIS (hospital information systems), LIMS (laboratory information systems), PACS, WEB-CT, and eRDA (remote data acquisition for clinical trial data collection and management software).
Founded in 1991, Genetix was originally established as a genomics company but has evolved to meet the requirements of both research and industrial sectors, which are now probing the human proteome to discover new drug targets and develop protein-based therapeutics against them. “Genetix was one of the first companies to develop the bacterial colony picking instrumentation required to feed large-scale sequencing projects,” Dr. Burke explains. “On completion of the human and other genome sequencing projects in the early 2000s, research drifted away from genomic sequencing, towards discovering the function of these newly discovered proteins, and how they could be targeted to address disease. We consequently evolved and adapted our expertise to develop new instrumentation and reagents for these applications, spearheaded the ClonePixFL, our flagship product for screening and selecting mammalian cell lines.”
In 2006, Genetix paid $22.5 million for Applied Imaging, adding to its portfolio the CytoVision® platform for the on-screen analysis of cells by cytology laboratories and Ariol™, a digital imaging and analysis solution for the quantification of biomarkers in tissue sections and tissue microarrays. “These platforms provided new technologies for applications in biomarker discovery and R&D in the field of personalized medicines. Combined with the capabilities of the Clo nePixFL, we could now offer industry and academia a suite of complementary technologies for target discovery, raising antibodies against these targets, isolating production cell lines and potentially, using Ariol, to select patients for treatment.”
The acquisition of SlidePath’s technologies will provide the industry with capabilities enabling the next stage in the development personalized medicines, through the ability to image and analyze slides automatically and collate, store, and share results, Dr. Burke concludes.