High throughput Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) spectral histopathology : a practical approach towards clinical translation

Michael Pilling, Peter Gardner, Alex Henderson, Michael D Brown, Benjamin Bird, Noel Clarke

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    Infrared microscopy has become one of the key techniques in the biomedical research field for interrogating tissue. In partnership with multivariate analysis and machine learning techniques, it has become widely accepted as a method which can distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue with both high sensitivity and high specificity1, 2. While spectral histopathology (SHP) is highly promising for improved clinical diagnosis, several practical barriers currently exist, which need to be addressed before successful implementation in the clinic. Sample throughput and speed of acquisition are key barriers and have been driven by the high volume of samples awaiting histopathological examination. FTIR chemical imaging utilising FPA technology is currently state–of-the-art for infrared chemical imaging, and recent advances in its technology have dramatically reduced acquisition times. Despite this, infrared microscopy measurements on a tissue micro array (TMA), often encompassing several million spectra takes several hours to acquire. The problem lies with the vast quantities of data which FTIR collects, each pixel in a chemical image is derived from a full infrared spectrum, itself composed of thousands of individual data points. Furthermore data management is quickly becoming a barrier to clinical translation and poses the question of how to store these incessantly growing data sets. Recently3 doubts have been raised as to whether the full spectral range is actually required for accurate disease diagnosis using SHP. These studies suggest that once spectral biomarkers have been pre-determined it may be possible to diagnose disease based on a limited number of discrete spectral features. In this current study, we explore the possibility of utilising discrete frequency chemical imaging for acquiring high-throughput, high resolution chemical images. Utilising a Quantum Cascade Laser imaging microscope with discrete frequency collection at key diagnostic wavelengths, we demonstrate that we can diagnose prostate cancer with high sensitivity and specificity. Finally we extend the study to a large patient data set utilising tissue micro arrays and show that high sensitivity and specificity can be achieved using high-throughput, rapid data collection, thereby paving the way for practical implementation in the clinic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-154
    JournalFaraday Discussions
    Early online date4 Jan 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2016


    • FTIR, Histopathology, Prostate Cancer, Quantum Cascade Laser

    Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

    • Manchester Institute of Biotechnology


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