A real support: Bavarian start-up aims to simplify microscopic assessment during breast cancer surgery with a special microscope

PreciPoint_Digital Microscopy

A start-up company from Freising near Munich, Bavaria, has set on a mission to simplify breast cancer surgery for both the physicians and the patients – with a special microscope.

Katharina Eser

Katharina Eser

Business Innovation Managerin at PreciPoint GmbH

For most breast cancer patients, the surgery is an important part of the treatment, because tumor tissue sample is removed from the breast. For it to be analyzed, the tissue must be sent to a pathology laboratory for microscopic assessment. However, the lack of pathologists is making this step more and more challenging.

They are developing a fully motorized brightfield microscope that enables to digitally – and remotely – access microscopic slides within seconds. This is very useful, especially when it comes to obtaining a second opinion or collaborating with fellow pathologists. Managing Director Dominik Gerber tells us how it all works.

An interview by Magdalena Höcherl, Freisinger Tagblatt.

Mr. Gerber, tell us more about the brightfield microscope

It is a fully motorized digital brightfield microscope that creates a live image of a microscopic slide in seconds. The image is displayed on a computer screen. The pathologist can now work on the slide, and steer the motorized microscope, in real-time via a touch screen or per mouse click. At the moment, the device is still in development and pending relevant certification as IVD device.

How did you come to developing this device?

The development was triggered by pathologists themselves, who have seen the M8 – the digital microscope we are currently distributing for research use – at trade shows, conferences, or on our website. They have been asking for such a device. Through discussions with specialists, it became clear that there is a need for such as solution. We had to carefully evaluate whether the market potential and customer demand would outweigh the high development and certification efforts. After we decided to pursue the idea, we started development in 2019.

What is special about this technology?

The device opens completely new ways of collaboration for pathologists. They can easily and quickly get a second opinion from a colleague anywhere in the world, by accessing the live microscopy image on their end device through a live stream. When there is no relevant specialist on site, those second opinions are extremely important. Overall, the solution supports healthcare professionals to make faster, more informed interpretations of microscopy slides.

What is going to change with the use of this technology?

Hospital processes will not have to change much at all. This is something we have been conscious of. The biggest change will be for the microscope user, who will no longer have to look through the eyepiece, but will work at his computer just like on a smartphone to control the fully automated microscope remotely.

And how will breast cancer patients benefit from it?

Due to the decreasing number of pathologists, more and more often surgical specimens are being sent to external labs as no pathologists are on-site. But this takes time. With the new microscope, transportation can become redundant. This will make a huge time difference in the workflow, to the benefit of the surgery patient. This will also simplify the collaboration between the surgeon and the pathologist during the operation.

What happens after the development and the certification of the device are completed?

When the certification is completed, the main challenge for us will be the international commercialization of our device. For a young company like PreciPoint, this is nothing you can do overnight. We expect that it will take us up to two years to present our technology globally.

Are you already working in cooperation with hospitals?

Of course. In Germany, we are collaborating closely with the Charité in Berlin and with university hospitals in Munich, Regensburg, and Marburg. This is very important for product development as it allows us to tailor our product specifically to customer requirements. Only this way can we develop a product that provides a real support for customers and enables progress.

Article published October 15, 2021 in the Freisinger Tagblatt and online at merkur.de

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