FIMM researches developed a novel systems pathology platform

A group of FIMM researches has developed a novel platform that combines fluorescent and chromogenic staining with automated whole-slide imaging and image analysis. This platform allows simultaneous detection and co-localization analysis of multiple markers and automatic quantification and classification of hundreds of thousands of cells.

Advances in cancer biology are rapidly changing the pathology field. To understand the complex pathological processes better, multiplexed detection of tumour biomarkers is needed. These methods complement the more traditional single-marker immunohistochemistry.

The multiplexed IHC (mIHC) platform developed at FIMM allows simultaneous detection and co-localization analysis of multiple markers in situ in the intact spatial context of tissues. The approach now enables simultaneous detection of six protein markers and nuclei, and automatic quantification and classification of hundreds of thousands of cells.

The platform was recently described in the Scientific Reports journal. Since the system is designed for open-source platforms, it should be widely implementable.

In order to deliver more accurate prognostics and patient stratification for treatments, tumours should be characterized more comprehensively. We wanted to develop a system that allows us to integrate cell-level information with context specific information of the microenvironment. Our goal was to develop an integrated “workhorse” mIHC system enabling not only moderate degree of multiplexing but also imaging and image analysis for high-resolution whole-slide analytics.

- Senior Researcher Teijo Pellinen from FIMM, the last author of the study

The researchers demonstrated the efficacy of the platform in two proof-of-concept studies utilizing prostate cancer samples. First, they showed that detecting immune cells at cell-level resolution in large quantities and analysis in the different tissue compartments is feasible. Next, they demonstrated that epithelial cells can be automatically classified based on biomarker profiling. 

Our mIHC method is based on a fixed set of secondary reagents instead of labelled primary antibodies, thus enabling rapid implementation and virtually unlimited design of custom antibody panels for different targets of interest. Furthermore, it has much higher scalability and throughput than the previously existing mIHC methods. We believe that these unique properties make this system a viable platform for pathology research.

- Doctoral Student Sami Blom from FIMM, the first author of the study


Original publication:

Blom S, Paavolainen L, Bychkov D, Turkki R, Mäki-Teeri P, Hemmes A, Välimäki K, Lundin J, Kallioniemi O, Pellinen T. Systems pathology by multiplexed immunohistochemistry and whole-slide digital image analysis. Sci Rep. 2017 Nov 14;7(1):15580. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-15798-4.