The technology has several potential applications, but Lumito has, as the first step, chosen to develop an instrument and reagents for digital pathology, i.e. digitised tissue diagnostics where the analysis can be computer-supported and remote.
Lumito’s technology means that multiple tests can be performed simultaneously in a single thin tissue section, providing timely and detailed information about the disease. The requirements for individualised treatments and disease prognoses are growing fast, as they reduce suffering for patients and lower the cost of healthcare. The need for prompt and accurate diagnosis of diseases/tumours not only means high technical requirements for modern analytical equipment, but it should also be adapted to an altered workflow with fewer manual elements.
Digital pathology is used in healthcare to save costs and shorten test times. The pathology of today is largely performed in the same way it has been for decades, by staining with Haematoxylin and Eosin in thin tissue sections. Even though each section is studied by a pathologist, many incorrect diagnoses occur. Today’s immunohistochemistry is very limited because it was developed primarily for traditional pathology, where microscopic samples are studied; it must be visible light because the human eye examines the sample and fluorescence imaging cannot be used. Lumito’s technology is much better suited to computer analysis than traditional immunohistochemistry because the image quality is so high; the diagnoses become safer and responses can be given faster.
Although the digitisation of pathology provides a greater degree of freedom, many problems persist. With Lumito’s technique, a large tissue sample can be studied quickly, and just the areas containing the tissue being looked for can be depicted with higher resolution. This is crucial for speeding up the digitisation process itself.
A vision of the future for surgeons and pathologists is being able to diagnose tissue already on the operating table, or even better, before surgery. Lumito’s technology has the potential to do this.
Lumito has patented its technology with two worldwide patent families and a new application in 2017. A patent family protects the use of Upconverting Nanoparticles (UCNPs) for imaging in propagating material. This family has patents approved in key regions worldwide and provides broad protection, even beyond medical use. The second patent family, also with patents approved in key regions, describes the use of light pulses to improve technology efficiency and provide shorter imaging times. The third patent was submitted in 2017 and describes how UCNP can be used for imaging primarily of tissues, specifically in pathology and tissue diagnostics.