The importance of digital images of glass slides


Inspirata® has a singular focus: cancer diagnostics

Even though nearly everyone has been touched in some form by cancer…, either directly or through a loved one, a friend or a colleague, how much do you really know about the disease and how it’s diagnosed?

The American Cancer Society statistics show that one out of two men and one out of three women will develop some form of cancer throughout his or her lifetime. The risk of dying from that form of cancer is still one in four for men and one in five for women. American Cancer Society Link

Each patient’s experience with cancer begins with diagnosis. Cancer is often manifested in anatomical changes that can be visually identified and qualitatively reviewed by skilled pathologists who provide an accurate diagnosis and inform therapeutic decisions. The challenge is that little has changed in the last 100 years in the way pathologists work. They still use a microscope to view glass slides that contain slivers of tissue samples taken from a biopsy. The process is time-consuming and analog, meaning that when a case needs to be reviewed by another pathologist in a different location, the glass slide must be physically shipped to the consulting doctor’s office. This can take days and can lengthen the time it takes for the patient to receive their diagnosis.

Going Digital

Cancer Diagnostics

Today technology exists to bring the practice of pathology into the digital age. High resolution, high-throughput scanners are available that can digitize up to 300 glass slides at a time. Once the slide image is digital, it can be shared anywhere in the world, meaning that patients can access pathology subspecialists who are most familiar with their specific type of cancer.

How Patients Benefit

Patient advocate and two-time cancer survivor, Kimberly Jewett, has praise for the work Inspirata is doing to facilitate more rapid and accurate diagnoses leveraging digital pathology technologies and computational image analytics that help pathologists work more efficiently.

Understanding Your Diagnosis

The Pathologist’s Report (reposted with permission from the College of American Pathologists (CAP)).

“Most people don’t realize when they ask for a second opinion on a cancer diagnosis, that those opinions should be based on examination of tissue on the glass slide, not simply the original pathology report,” says Jewett. “I know this process all too well, having experienced many delays by both the referring and receiving hospitals to get my physical glass slides transferred for review. I am a big advocate of the future vision of digital pathology that can help all of us ensure that our slides can be rendered into digital images that can then be shared and reviewed in a short amount of time by multiple specialized pathologists. The digitizing of glass pathology slides can make the diagnostic process much faster and easier for cancer patients. The time is now for second opinions enabled by digital pathology.”

Image Analysis

Additionally, digitization further enhances and modernizes the practice of pathology because computer algorithms can be run on digital images of microscope slides to identify and mark suspicious lesions. Similar to Google Earth, our image analysis algorithms can peer into the morphological data layers of your tissue sample to identify and highlight anomalies. Prescreening the digital image of your tissue sample with these algorithms, directs the pathologist’s eye right to the areas that are of most interest. This enables the pathologist to focus directly on the cancer they need to diagnose and spend less of their time scanning thousands of cells for suspicious malignancies.

Predictive Assays (Future of Pathology)

Another giant leap forward into what the future holds is Inspirata’s cancer assays. Much like popular genomic assays, our cancer assays will predict your prognoses and how you are likely to respond to specific therapies. Our initial product, which is called Image-based Risk Score (IbRiS)*, leverages a different type of computer algorithm to extract quantitative, morphometric measurements from digitized images of breast tissue, then analyzes these measurements using a complex classifier that results in a risk score of the likelihood of cancer recurrence and the patient’s response to hormonal therapy.

* Currently for research purposes only


Inspirata is unlocking the door to the pathologist’s office of the future, revolutionizing how pathologists will work and contribute to precision medicine. We call this PathologyNEXT® and we are committed to the promise it holds. Follow Inspirata as we lead disruptive healthcare innovations to ensure a more rapid and accurate diagnosis of cancer to optimize patient outcomes.


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