This year Solmedia are celebrating their 90th Anniversary! We have proudly supplied the highest-quality laboratory products and equipment to pathology laboratories since 1934. Through continuous development and relationship building with our customers, suppliers and partners over the last 90 years, we have successfully expanded our product portfolio to provide the most reliable products and equipment to our customers.
Following the first demonstration of the use of desiccated culture media by Mr.F.R Chopping in 1910, the product ‘Solmedia’ was Trade Marked . Mr Chopping continued to produce and supply Solmedia to laboratories worldwide and following the continuous success, in 1934 Solmedia was incorporated as a Limited Company. Subsequently the range of products supplied was greatly increased to include all products and equipment associated with pathology and biological science.
90 years in the making
Not long after the Company was incorporated, Chopping’s ‘Solmedia’ tested the safety of the water and dairy produce for the British Forces overseas during World War II.
In 1948 the UK saw the establishment of the National Health Service which opened up further opportunities for Solmedia Ltd to support diagnostic pathology development by delivering to all laboratories within the NHS.
To continually meet the demand and rapid growth of the Healthcare Sector in routine and research pathology, Solmedia acquired new premises in 1960, 1987, 2014 and 2022 with the expansion of offices overseas.
Our passion for innovation and our drive to improve laboratory performance led to expanding our product portfolio and expertise with a capital equipment range in 2003 to offer laboratories a complete supply solution. In addition, we broadened our services in the early 2000’s to provide in-house equipment maintenance services alongside our equipment to ensure our customer equipment continues to perform to the highest standards.
What We Have Seen
Over the last 90 years our company and some of our staff have been privileged to witness some incredible milestones within the pathology and the healthcare industry which have contributed to increasing life expectancy (from birth) in the United Kingdom from 59 in 1934 to 81 in 2020. This includes reductions in illnesses, major advances in blood transfusions, cancer diagnostics and treatment, vaccinations and treatment of inherited conditions. Here are just some of the key dates in pathology history that has helped shape the world we live in today thanks to the pioneering work of pathologists:
The first automatic tissue processors were introduced.
German physicist Ernst Ruska and electrical engineer Max Knoll used electrons to produce a magnified image for the first time. They built a prototype electron microscope, capable of resolving to 50 nanometres. By 1960 electron microscopes had a resolution of 1 nanometre.
Immunofluorescence was introduced when a florescent dye was used to label antibodies to identify antigens in tissue sections.
The first report of the use of immunohistochemistry was published and become a routine part of every histopathology lab to differentiate between cancers and determining treatment options. Thanks to IHC, pathologists can identify if breast tumours are HER2 positive and thus amenable to targeted HER2 inhibitor treatment.
DNA double helix structure was discovered by Watson and Francis Crick and was a major breakthrough in modern pathology.
The first complete cure of a human solid tumour, Roy Hertz and Min Chiu Li achieved this with chemotherapy using the drug methotrexate to treat a patient with choriocarcinoma.
The first modern organ transplant was performed being a kidney, followed by the first heart transplant was performed in 1967.
The first development of a cryostat microtome, in which a Cambridge Rocker microtome was placed inside a refrigerated chamber. This was created by German- manufacturers Slee, whom Solmedia exclusively partnered with in early 2021.
Introduction to bioinformatics enabling analysis and interpretation of biological data particularly DNA, RNA, and protein sequences.
Neonatal blood spot card was introduced allowing scientists to test newborn babies for the following diseases: cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria (PKU), congenital hypothyroidism, sickle cell disease, thalassaemia and medium chain acyl Co-A dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD); with just a small sample of blood.
Automated slide stainers introduced.
The glucose meter was invented enabling someone with diabetes to know whether to increase or reduce the amount of medication they take or inject to keep their blood sugar stable
IVF was developed with the first successful IVF pregnancy in 1978 with the birth of Louise Brown in Manchester.
The invention of the ELISA test using antibodies to seek the presence of hormones or viruses.
HIV testing of blood to diagnose the infection early.
PCR was invented, where enzyme DNA polymerase to produce millions of copies of specific lengths of DNA. PCR has led to great advances in many areas of pathology including genetics, clinical biochemistry, microbiology and forensics.
Genetic fingerprinting was discovered that demonstrated a short sequence of DNA called minisatellites that vary from one person to another and are passed on from parent to child.
Virtual microscopy was introduced.
1990 – 2003
the Human Genome Project. A lot of time and money went into this project that then opened up research into the cause of diseases including inherited conditions and cancer. Solmedia’s customer Welcome Trust Sanger Institute were the representative institute for the UK who made up the ‘G5’.
The FDA approves sipuleucel-T, a cancer treatment vaccine that is made using a patient’s own immune system cells (dendritic cells), for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.
COVID-19 the global pandemic of the spread of SARS-CoV-2. This epidemic caused global and national lockdowns, nurses and the NHS bravely continued to work on the frontline to look after patients as the rise in hospitalisation of COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals. Whilst scientist and researches achieved one of the fastest turn arounds in the creation and approval of a vaccine with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in less than a year, laboratories were also inundated with PCR testing with one of the largest PCR and antigen testing programmes carried out – with a reported 544 million Covid-19 tests processed in the UK to this date.
Then and Now
From 1934 to now, we appreciate how far science, research and technology has come. We are excited to be a part of the advancements being made within pathology today including digital pathology and diagnosis, the use of AI, robotics, 3D printing, VR and automation to improve processes and results. We are now witnessing more personalised medicine due to advances in genetic sequencing, using peoples’ phenotypes and genotypes. The molecular features of cancers are being increasingly understood and the role of histopathologists are expanding from diagnosing cancers, to guiding treatment decisions or determining a prognosis. Pathologist are also more involved in more complex treatment decisions such as infectious diseases where antimicrobial resistance is on the rise and the WHO have declared this to be one of the top ten global public health threats facing humanity. Pathology is undoubtably, “the science behind the cure” and we will continue to support pathologists in their developments and who knows where we will be in the next 90 years to come!