Philips snaps up Northern Irish digital pathology startup PathXL

IntelliSite slide scanner--Courtesy of Philips

Philips ($PHG) has acquired Northern Ireland's PathXL, which specializes in image analysis and tissue pathology. Digital pathology is a top priority for Philips, which committed itself a couple of years ago to focus exclusively on HealthTech.

Digital pathology, along with wearable patient monitoring and health informatics, are "high growth areas" that Philips continues to invest in significantly, the company's president, chairman and CEO Frans van Houten noted to investors on an April earnings call.

"With this acquisition, we are accelerating our drive to support global medical institutions in their transition to digitized pathology workflows," said Russ Granzow, general manager of Philips Digital Pathology Solutions, in the statement. "Together with PathXL we see a unique opportunity to amplify our combined technology leadership positions. We will be able to offer an intelligent and integrated solution that fulfills many needs in computational pathology, education, workflow solutions and image analytics. These important and growing disciplines within pathology will enable a high-quality quantitative analysis of digital whole slide images."

PathXL was founded in 2004 by professors from the Queen's University Belfast Department of Pathology Informatics. The company has about 30 employees and offers its digital pathology workflow software to more than 40,000 users worldwide. The software includes web-enabled workflow, case management, research collaboration and cellular image analysis capabilities, PathXL said. The financial details were not disclosed.

The startup's offerings will complement Philips' IntelliSite Pathology Solution, an automated digital pathology system that comprises a fast pathology slide scanner, image management system and software tools. It is CE marked and licensed in Canada, Singapore and the Middle East for in vitro diagnostic use. It has 510(k) clearance in the U.S. to test for HER2-positive breast cancer.

With the demand for pathology services outrunning the supply of skilled pathologists, digital pathology can help pathologists analyze large datasets more quickly and improve the quality of diagnosis, Philips said in a statement. Last year, Philips' LabPON was the first clinical pathology lab to go fully digital, meaning that all tissue samples are examined digitally rather than being diagnosed by pathologists using a microscope.

In January 2015, Philips announced it would offer Indica Labs' image analysis algorithms as part of its digital pathology offerings. And two months later, Philips partnered with Inspirata to develop digital pathology analytics and workflow with an initial focus on pathologists at U.S. cancer centers. Earlier this year, the company announced a multi-center study that would examine the IntelliSite device with the goal of getting FDA clearance for use as a primary diagnostic.

- here's the statement