For most of the breast cancer patients, the surgery is an important part of the treatment, because tumor tissue is removed from the breast. For it to be analyzed, the tissue must be sent to a pathology laboratory. However, the lack of pathologists is making this step more and more challenging.
This is when PreciPoint, the startup company from Freising comes into play: They are developing a fully automated brightfield microscope that enables to remotely access microscopic slides within seconds. This is very useful, especially when it comes to getting a second opinion or collaborating with fellow pathologists. Managing Director Dominik Gerber tells us how it all works.
Mr. Gerber, tell us more about your brightfield microscope
It is a fully automated digital brightfield microscope that creates a live image of a microscopic slide in seconds. The image is transferred to a computer screen. The pathologist can work on it in real-time via a touch screen or per mouse click. At the moment, the device is still in development and pending certification.
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 – 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 potentials and customer demand would outweigh the high development and certification efforts. After we decided to pursue the idea, we started development in 2019.
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What is special about this technology?
The device opens 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. It makes it possible to make faster, more informed interpretations of microscopy slides. When there is no specialist on-site for example, second opinions are extremely important.
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. But this takes time. With the new microscope, transport will 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 device has been certified, the main challenge for us will be the international sales and distribution. For a young company like PreciPoint, this is not something that can be done 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, for example with the Freising hospital?
There is no cooperation with the Freising hospital at the moment. We are working closely with the Charité in Berlin and with the university hospitals in Regensburg, Munich and Marburg. This is very important during the development phase because it allows us to tailor our product to the customer requirements. This way only can we develop a product that provides a real support and enables progress.