Enter Interactive Scientific Publishing. This is an online software and database infrastructure that allows quantitative image files, including DICOM files, to be accessible to the scientific community for inspection and analysis. The Optical Society (OSA) in partnership with the U.S. National Library of Medicine retained the imaging software and visualization expertise of Kitware, Inc., to develop this infrastructure to host quantitative imaging data for public access. This OSA-hosted environment is called Interactive Scientific Publishing (ISP). This resource not only allows the image to be inspected, but an array of quantitative analysis tools, including an open-source lesion sizing tool, are also available in the hosted environment, allowing readers to reanalyze and independently verify conclusions derived from the submitted image data. This extends the peer-review process and will be a powerful resource in advancing progress in quantitative imaging.
The current supplemental issue of Optic Express is a dedicated issue that explores the utility of this new Interactive Scientific Publishing resource. The use-case for this effort is the vibrant field of lung cancer drug discovery. Lung cancer is the world’s most lethal cancer and the focus of intense pharmaceutical interest. It may not be obvious why this would be an attractive point of departure until one considers the normal function of the lungs. Specifically, they function to exchange gases. Thus, in contrast to virtually every other part of the body, early changes in the lung suggestive of cancer are surrounded by air and not by fluid or solid tissue. Therefore the signal-to-noise contrast in the lung is particularly favorable in allowing the fine anatomy of the lung to be clearly visualized at high resolution. This also allows for more effective separation (or segmentation) of the normal from the cancerous tissues, providing precise quantification of important characteristics of such structures.
Much of the preliminary clinical quantitative imaging background data and some of the imaging resources reported in this issue of Optics Express were developed in conjunction with a series of Workshops on Image Processing and Lung Cancer Drug Discovery, sponsored by the Prevent Cancer Foundation over the past seven years. The editors of this supplement have been on the Organizing Committee for those Workshops and worked together to produce the Optical Society Monograph published in 2008 entitled “Quantitative Imaging Tools for Lung Cancer Drug Assessment.”
A major accomplishment since the previous Monograph has been the development by OSA and Kitware, Inc., of the ISP system. Therefore all of the images for this submission are available for digital evaluation using the capabilities of ISP. In addition to the peer-review aspect of this resource, which was already discussed, ISP supports the repurposing of DICOM imaging files. This ability to download and aggregate image files from published research papers may also allow additional new imaging research questions to be addressed.
OSA is providing an important new infrastructure for image research to the user community. The reports in this supplement contain very important validating information about the performance of quantitative imaging in this volume CT setting with access to a wealth of supporting data. We anticipate that progress will occur rapidly in this dynamic field, and we are confident that the capabilities provided by Interactive Scientific Publishing will be a great asset in accelerating the pace of progress in quantitative imaging. We hope that this volume is a useful introduction for many to this array of new resources for more timely and successful drug development research.