Troy Bankhead, pictured, is Techcyte director of European operations
Photo: Maison moderne/archives
Director of Techcyte's European Operations Troy Bankhead told Delano why Techcyte chose Luxembourg as its European base and described its unique offering to medical laboratories.
As global attention focused on healthcare for all on World Health Day, which took place on 7 April 2018, Luxembourg reaffirmed its commitment to the goal of universal health coverage, both abroad and at home.
As well as working in partnership the World Health Organisation (WHO) in developing countries, the government is also pledged to ensure access to health services to its needy at home.
This commitment to advancing healthcare also includes heavy investment in R&D and the welcoming of innovative, high-tech companies, developing solutions that could improve healthcare for patients and practitioners alike. One such company is Techcyte, which set up in Luxembourg in April 2017. In an interview with Delano, director of European operations Troy Bankhead discussed why Techcyte chose Luxembourg as its European base and described its unique offering to medical laboratories.
Margaret Ferns: Why did Techcyte choose Luxembourg as its European base of operations?
Troy Bankhead: Basically, because Luxembourg puts its money where its mouth is. It wants to be a European bio-tech hub and is actually making it happen. Its central location and business-friendly environment also make it a good choice for companies looking for a European location from which to carry out further expansion. Europe is of interest for our business as it is advancing in the adoption and acceptance of digital pathology. Above all, we saw that there is a real demand for our product in Luxembourg as it has never been available before now.
MF: How has your first year in Luxembourg progressed?
TB: We have been very active in contacting laboratories in Luxembourg and the greater region to demonstrate how Techcyte can help them in their work and see how we can work together in the future. So far, feedback has been very positive, and we already have several projects underway. We are hoping to start recruiting for our permanent Luxembourg team in the near future as well.
MF: What exactly does Techcyte offer laboratories?
TB: In some cases, we will work as an R&D partner with the laboratories and, in other cases, they will use our deep-learning image analysis platform to lower their costs and increase lab efficiencies. Let me explain how.
You are a laboratory dealing with thousands of blood tests every day (although our platform does not only deal with blood tests but also pap smear tests, urine and faecal analyses). In the region of 85% of testing is automated and the rest has to be manual. This is where we come in.
The remaining 15% requires a technician manually counting blood cells. This is time consuming and costly. With our system the technician need only scan the sample and send the image to Techcyte. Our deep machine learning image processor runs the scan through our algorithm and is able to identify and classify them much quicker and more consistently than the human eye. The only additional cost outlay is the price of a scanner if they don’t already have one.
MF: Can you give examples of when this would be particularly useful?
TB: For example, in situations where a rapid diagnosis and, therefore, access to treatment as soon as possible are essential. Take lyme disease, the sooner this disease is diagnosed, and the patient starts antibiotics, the better the chances that it can be arrested sooner, rather than dragging on for years as is often the case.
Our technology can also help doctors diagnose circulating tumour cells by a simple blood test, a much more welcome alternative to an invasive biopsy.
Techcyte’s potential contribution to healthcare via faster, more consistent analyses of diagnostic tests results at a low cost is clear, but its technology is not limited to human well-being. Bankhead explained that it is currently developing in the sectors of veterinary care and human air quality.
Deep (machine) learning
“Deep Learning is an artificial intelligence function that imitates the workings of the human brain in processing data and creating patterns for use in decision making. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that has networks which are capable of learning unsupervised from data that is unstructured or unlabeled. Also known as Deep Neural Learning or Deep Neural Network.” Source: Investopedia