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Faster Early Cancer Diagnostics through Hardware Automation

Success Story

Curing cancer is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. New approaches are slowly getting us closer to a future where cancer can become a curable disease, and at Scalefocus we are proud to do our part in this battle.

We helped our client, a global biotech company, develop and implement innovative technology solutions and automate their breast cancer diagnostics workflow. This process leads to a proper treatment of affected patients as early as possible and eventually will help reduce women’s mortality rate worldwide.

Increased productivity with custom made hardware and software

Automated cancer diagnostics machine workflow

Reduced cost and time for product development

The Client

Our client is one of the largest biotech companies globally, fighting diseases on many fronts like oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, and diseases of the central nervous system. Focused on advancing science to improve the world’s health and pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, their global strategy aims to fit the proper treatment to each patient through technology. World leader in in vitro diagnostics, diabetes management, and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, the company aims to improve patient access to medical innovations worldwide.

The Solution

One of our client’s products allows for early diagnosis of breast cancer through tissue diagnostics. As part of the existing process, our client processed samples in 5 steps, one of which still involved manual interaction. This was not ideal as manual methods for sample processing can be time-consuming and can impact decision-making time to determine patient therapy, increasing the chances for inconsistent results and human error.

To remove the manual steps from the process, our client needed an experienced adviser to consult them on the necessary hardware platform to be used and then implement the whole software architecture based on the chosen hardware. The initial hardware used to automate this step in the workflow had the size of a big fridge, while our client wanted it reduced to the size of a personal computer.

What were the requirements for the hardware?

In the current workflow for tissue diagnosis, this machine stands in between the automated processes for breast cancer diagnosis. The only manual steps left were the ones where the sample is applied on a glass microscope slide. The patient’s cells are collected and suspended in a fixative in vial. The needed hardware had to be able to automatically open the sample cap, filter the cells out and then apply the proper pressure to stamp them in a monolayer on a microscope slide, dry it and send it for staining and analysis.

We collaborated with the client’s team and external teams responsible for developing the hardware. Our teams built several MVPs using different technological stacks. They consulted the client at every step of the process, advising them of the pros and cons of the suggested technologies and verifying and testing their productivity and performance.

We suggested the latest generation single-board computer as the base of the hardware platform, best suited for the problem we were trying to solve. Scalefocus developed and implemented the whole software architecture that navigates the machine based on the suggested and approved hardware.

Throughout the initial phase, we used various tech stacks to achieve optimal results. Initially, development started on QT, but later we advised our client that .NET would be better suited, as most of their applications were already developed on .NET. This allowed for reusability of a lot of components that were already developed, saving significant time and resources.

The deep and various expertise of the Scalefocus team members was essential for the success of the project. Our engineers with rich experience in IoT and electronics consulted the client on choosing the right hardware platform. Our cybersecurity experts helped harden the platform’s security while our software developers built the whole front and back-end for the tailored solution.

For the first time in the company’s history, software and hardware were developed simultaneously, thanks to the extended R&D capabilities that Scalefocus provided. We convinced the client to use the right combination of an embedded platform with embedded Linux. That was a significant change for a company using mainly .NET and machines running on Windows.

The outsourced development center significantly improved the cooperation between our client’s R&D teams and and helped to ensure better efficiency of the development processes.

Results

Through this project, the Scalefocus team had the opportunity to make a direct contribution to the fight against cancer – a socially significant problem that affects a vast number of patients around the world every year. In the process of software development, our colleagues worked side by side with the client’s team and external vendors.

This presented an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing and exchange of experience directly with the client. The introduced innovation makes the whole research process more consistent and allows users to focus on more substantial work, while machines and software automate the repetitive steps. The project is now in its semi-automation phase. After its completion, it is expected to bring significant time savings. When it comes to health and life, time is of the essence

Business benefits:

  • Automated machine workflow for cancer diagnostics
  • Reduced cost and time for product development
  • Increased productivity with custom hardware and software

Our Work

We have a global client base that includes Fortune 500 companies, innovative startups and industry leaders in Information Technology, E-Commerce, Insurance, Healthcare, Finance and Energy & Utilities.

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