Molecular Pathology’s Contextual Cues

September 1, 2015
Molecular Pathology’s Contextual Cues
Definiens, a provider of image analysis and data-mining solutions for tissue diagnostics, generated this image to represent the company’s technological approach: providing detailed cell-by-cell readouts from target structures on tissue slides, and correlating this information with data derived from other sources. This approach is meant to generate new knowledge and support better decisions in research, diagnostics, and therapy.

DeeAnn Visk, Ph.D.

Molecular pathology attempts to describe and understand the origins and mechanisms of disease by evaluating the molecular content of patient samples. Increasingly, “molecular content” is being seen as an intricate, interconnected whole, a dynamic collection of interacting parts. In other words, context is all.

Context was a recurring theme at the Pathology Diagnostics Conference, a key piece of the Molecular Diagnostics Summit recently held in San Diego. At this event, several presenters emphasized the ways pathology results may become more meaningful if, for example, morphological and spatial information is preserved in molecular tests, or—more generally—imaging is integrated with data analysis.

Presenters also indicated that mining molecular pathology not only yields clinical paydirt, it also conserves scarce healthcare resources. For example, Bonnie Anderson, President and CEO of Veracyte, asked how molecular pathology could be used to impact the healthcare system and reduce costs: “Where can we impact the healthcare system to reduce cost? How can efficiency be increased by using genomic technology?” Patients, Anderson noted, often endure multiple procedures in expensive diagnostic odysseys.

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