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Indica Labs and Octo Launch COVID-19 Digital Pathology Repository

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Indica Labs, a provider of computational pathology software, and Octo, an information technology systems provider to the U.S. Federal Government, have announced the online COVID Digital Pathology Repository (COVID-DPR), a virtual collection of high resolution microscopic COVID-related human tissue images hosted at the National Institutes of Health.

While the number of COVID-19-related deaths continues to rise worldwide, only a few organizations are equipped with the viral containment facilities to perform autopsies and collect tissues from patients who succumb to the disease. These tissues are critical for researchers who are investigating the pathology, treatment and prevention of COVID-19 infection. COVID-DPR was created to enable international collaboration by providing a centralized, cloud-based repository for sharing and annotating digital whole slide images of lung, liver, kidney and heart tissues from patients infected with COVID19, as well as the closely related coronaviruses associated with SARs and MERs. The whole slide images, annotations and metadata in the repository will be used as a reference data set for education, research and future clinical trials aimed at limiting further infection, disease, and death.

COVID-DPR is underpinned by Indica Labs’ HALO Link™ software, a collaborative image management platform designed specifically for secure sharing of digital whole slide images and data. The HALO Link instance associated with COVID-DPR will be deployed in a web portal developed and managed by Octo and Axle Informatics to provide a secure, globally accessible central repository. Biomedical scientists can securely add, view, annotate, analyze and share whole slide images using HALO Link. Indica Labs’ image analysis, machine learning and artificial intelligence tools can also be integrated and accessed within the HALO Link interface.

"The entire Indica Labs team takes great pride in working with NIH and Octo to deliver a much-needed global integration for COVID-19 pathology and a framework for the implementation of further cutting-edge technologies," said Steven Hashagen, CEO at Indica Labs. "Deployment of the HALO Link platform will provide data availability and allow real-time collaboration between the world’s leading clinical institutions at this critical time in our battle against the novel Coronavirus."

Susan Gregurick, NIH Associate Director for Data Science and Director of the Office of Data Science Strategy, is coordinating NIH’s computational efforts to combat the disease. "To better understand the ravaging effects of COVID-19 on the human body and to make progress in alleviating those effects, researchers need to have timely access to clinical and imaging data," said Gregurick. "The COVID-19 digital pathology repository is a significant step in this direction. This resource provides all investigators a platform to access important reference datasets, and in the next iteration, to support clinical trials research and provide datasets for computational studies based on imaging analysis and artificial intelligence, which are essential capabilities for defeating COVID-19."

CAPT Stephen Hewitt, USPHS, at the National Cancer Institute observed that "When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, it was clear the global pathology community needed a good way to rapidly share images and develop a reference dataset. This unique resource will help accelerate our ability to develop effective countermeasures for COVID-19."

Octo has supported NIH with software and systems development for the last decade, including NIH’s first blockchain program. "We knew we wanted to do something meaningful to help fight the COVID pandemic. This project with Indica Labs and NIH was exactly the avenue we were looking for." Octo CEO Mehul Sanghani said. "This effort really allows us to put our best capabilities to use on this pivotal effort. We’re ecstatic to be part of this team."

The current initiative involves multiple institutes within NIH, and COVID-DPR will be available immediately as a shared resource for researchers at institutes around the world with initial data sets being provided by infectious disease labs across North America, Europe, and Australia.