This week saw Frost & Sullivan award its 2013 Company of the Year to Definiens, a provider of image analysis solutions and data mining solutions for life science, tissue diagnostics, and clinical digital pathology. Definiens’ gaining of the title owes much to its work around tissue datafication that’s leveraging its Definiens Cognition Network Technology, which the company says mimics the human mind’s cognitive powers to reposition knowledge within a semantic network.
“What we do essentially is look at ways to be able to better diagnose cancer and develop therapies,” says Merrilyn Datta, CMO at Definiens. The company looks to extract data from tumor images, historically available as slides from biopsies, datafying the tissues involved to create digital images and then using its Cognition Network Technology to extract all the different relevant objects in that image and correlate them to patient outcomes. “That can be extremely, extremely powerful,” says Datta.
The image analysis technology was developed by Physics Nobel Laureate Gerd Binning, and includes a set of principles aimed at emulating the human mind’s cognitive powers, which are defined by the ability to intuitively aggregate pixels into ‘objects’ and understand the context and relationships between those objects rather than the computer’s normal way of just examining images pixel by pixel. These principles include: context, which is established and utilized through the technology’s creation of a hierarchical network of pixel clusters representing nested structures within the image; navigation, for supporting efficient navigation inside the network in order to enable specific local processing and addressing of specific contexts; and evolution of the network, in which the individual stages of segmentation and classification are alternated and the structures represented within the network are created and constantly improved in a series of loops, whereby each classification can be enhanced with local context and specific expert knowledge.