The ability to align and subsequently analyze digitized serial sections is gaining importance for a number of research and diagnostic applications related to tissue based biomarkers.
Tumor Cell Detection: One popular application is tumor detection using tumor markers such as Cytokeratin, Melan-A, or other immunohistochemical (IHC) tumor markers. Also H&E stained tissue sections can be useful for tumor detection, despite obvious and well known limitations in robustness and dynamic range.
Tumor Micro Environment: In research applications requiring a quantitative description, e.g. tumor micro-environment, it is often important to be able to look at the co-localization of multiple biomarkers. Here, the alignment of serial sections is a highly efficient approach (see example above).
Visiopharm’s strong and general patent on alignment of any number of whole slide images of serial sections was granted first in Europe, and then subsequently in the United States in 2012.
Visiopharm’s patented alignment technology consists of two crucial steps: First, an alignment at low magnification that handles rotation, translation, and local deformations in the tissue samples. Then a second step where the alignment at high-magnification is based on the knowledge established in the first step, and then used for aligning local regions at high resolution.
In practical terms, it will be difficult to implement alignment methods with sufficient computational efficiency, speed, and accuracy for whole slide images, without using this approach, which was also the basis for Visiopharm’s patented algorithm.
This fast and highly accurate technology is implemented in the TISSUEalign™ module. The module can be used for a range of practical applications, and is currently being used in routine diagnostics and by leading biopharmaceutical companies for drug development and biomarker discovery. Examples are Virtual Double Staining for tumor cell detection using IHC or a more rudimentary H&E. It is simple and efficient to implement this useful principle either for full sections, and Visiopharm is the only company who also has an efficient integration of this principle with TMA workflows. Any number of serial sections can be aligned, and subsequently analyzed simultaneously using Visiopharm’s suite of image analysis modules.
There are a number webinars available on Visiopharm’s YouTube channel on the technology, and you can also sign up for our senior scientific consultant, Mikkel Rahbek’s, webinar on January 20, 2015 at 10 AM EST / 4 PM CET titled “Virtual Double Staining: A New Approach for Combining Biomarkers in Research.”
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