Visikol Awarded $1.64M NIH NCI Phase II SBIR Award to Further Develop Imaging and Digital Pathology Portfolio

Over the last five years, Visikol has developed an extensive portfolio of advanced imaging, digital pathology and cell culture tools that it leverages to provide its Clients with best-in-class drug discovery and development services. These services have been integral to programs at dozens of pharmaceutical companies and Visikol today counts half of the top twenty pharmaceutical companies as Clients. Key to this success has been Visikol’s continued development of cutting edge imaging and image analysis technologies such as its Visikol® HISTO™ 3D tissue imaging platform as well as its recent launch of its multiplex slide imaging services. The team at Visikol is excited and proud to now announce that the National Cancer Institute has funded its efforts to apply its tissue imaging platforms to clinical applications with the goal of improving patient diagnosis and outcomes.

The original business thesis for Visikol when it was launched five years ago was to build a company focused on transforming tissues and cells into insights through the use of advanced imaging and image analysis tools. At the time, advanced tissue imaging approaches such as tissue clearing were nascent and as such, the company was designed to be built through a three phase approach with the long-term goal of positively impacting clinical outcomes. In the first few years of Visikol, the company was highly focused on R&D and gaining market traction, feedback and credibility through the use of a product-oriented business model targeted at academic researchers and early adopters. It was through this approach that Visikol generated over four dozen publications and established OEM agreements with several major life science companies to sell the Visikol product portfolio.

In late 2017, the company transitioned from this model into a research services business through which these technologies could be leveraged in the preclinical space to help accelerate drug discovery and development. To date, Visikol has had tremendous success in this field and has managed to build both a rapidly growing and also profitable organization. It is with this success and traction that the NIH has now awarded Visikol a Direct to Phase II SBIR grant focused on applying its technologies towards improving clinical outcomes.

Specifically, Visikol will be focused on applying its multiplex 3D tissue imaging technologies to improving the diagnosis of metastatic melanoma and improving  the sensitivity of lymph node evaluation for metastasis. The main problem that the technology addresses is the improved detection of isolated tumor cells and micro-metastases which would better inform clinical care and indicate that the cancer has migrated from its primary site which could result in more aggressive treatment and improved patient outcomes. “We have always felt that digital pathology and advanced imaging modalities have a place in the pathology field and can immensely improve outcomes for patients. However, it is crucial that applications are chosen in which the technology can greatly inform and change patient treatment and thus patient outcomes or else the overall utility of the technology is limited and will not be adopted simply on the basis of being slightly more inexpensive or more innovative than the current clinical approach,” described Visikol CEO Michael Johnson, PhD.

The project will stretch over the next two years and the main aim of the project is to develop a clinical imaging platform for improving the detection of tumor cells within melanoma lymph node biopsies. “Since I first developed our 3D tissue imaging platform almost ten years ago, I have always wanted to apply it to improve patient outcomes and this funding from the NIH will let us finally evaluate whether this is feasible,” described Visikol CSO Tom Villani, PhD.

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