Google, Hologic partner up to bolster ML in digital diagnostics

Google, Hologic partner up to bolster ML in digital diagnostics

As the COVID-19 global pandemic has put an emphasis onto the digital health sector, investments are continuously pouring in to further grow the bridge between technology and medicine; and Big Tech are starting to notice.

Search engine giant Google is looking to get part of the action, by partnering up with U.S.-based medical technology company Hologic to bolster its digital pathology platforms for diagnosing cervical cancer with new artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) programs.

The multi-year strategic deal – set at an undisclosed fee – will bring together Google Cloud’s ML capabilities with Hologic’s Genius Digital Diagnostics System to transform screening and work toward the eradication of cervical cancer across the globe.

The MedTech’s Genius cytology system digitally stacks 2D images of a patient’s cells to provide additional visual depth to glass Pap test slides and uses AI to select the scans that may be the most relevant to the pathologist’s task of spotting precancerous lesions and signs of cervical tumors.

“Hologic has been at the forefront of cervical cancer screening for more than 30 years, and we are building on that legacy with this strategic collaboration,” Kevin Thornal, President of Hologic’s Diagnostic Solutions Division, said in a joint statement. “Enhancing our use of AI with Google Cloud’s machine learning capabilities and cloud architecture is the next natural step in this journey forward.”

Google Cloud also provides a secure and reliable cloud data architecture to further extend the system’s capabilities.

The automated system, capable of prepping and imaging up to 400 slides per run, is CE marked for use in Europe but currently unavailable in the U.S.

Hologic’s collaboration with Google promises to migrate the system’s data management infrastructure to the cloud, and the two companies will also work to further develop its deep learning components.

According to Hologic, Genius Digital Diagnostics is the first digital cytology platform to combine artificial intelligence (AI) with advanced digital imaging to help identify pre-cancerous lesions and cancer cells in women.

The expectation is that the Genius Digital Diagnostics System will derive even more actionable insights from cytology slides for cytotechnologists and pathologists.

Hologic is conducting research to explore the meaningful differences working at the intersection of AI and ML can have within diagnostics, improving laboratory performance, healthcare provider decision-making, and ultimately patient care.

“Through this collaboration with Hologic, we are helping to evolve digital diagnostics by complementing their expertise in diagnostics and AI with our expertise in machine learning,” Joe Miles, Managing Director of Google Cloud Healthcare and Life Sciences, noted.

While the financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed, the project comes after Hologic saw a windfall from COVID-19 testing revenues over the past year. The company saw its diagnostics sales rise 375 percent in the final quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, generating over $1.3 billion.

Since then, it has put down $64 million to acquire Somatex, a German manufacturer of breast cancer biopsy markers and guidance equipment, plus another $230 million to nab genetic test developer Biotheranostics.