A periodic list of methods, tools and people driving research and development. Our scientists present six tools and strategies influencing pathology.
1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning: With the rise in whole slide scanner technology, large numbers of tissue slides are being scanned, analyzed, and archived digitally. Automated image analysis increases efficiency and sensitivity for detecting changes within tissues. Additionally, the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning has the long-term potential to reduce pathologist workload through slide screening prior to pathologist evaluation.
2. Multiplexing: ISH for RNA and IHC for protein on the same slide. Due to the multiple benefits of detecting both RNA and protein within the same sample, scientists have begun to develop dual ISH-IHC protocols to perform both analyses on the same slide.
3. CAR T-Cell Immunotherapy: A patient’s own cells can be the best defense against oncologic malignancies. Chimeric antigen receptor-modified T-cells (CAR-T) are T-cells that have been modified to target specific antigens on tumor cells. These therapies carry minimal risk of rejection or immune hypersensitivity, are not restricted to MHC-displayed antigens, can be engineered to recognize multiple antigens simultaneously, and can be prepared quickly to facilitate rapid treatment. CAR-T-based therapy is an exciting and promising new approach for tumor therapy, and one which is continuously improving.
4. Proximal ligation assay: A new way to view molecular interactions under the microscope. This assay offers a way to visualize interactions between two proteins or between protein and RNA on the same cells, which can be utilized in early drug development.
5. Immuno-EM: This method allows us to detect subcellular localization of test articles or other proteins, allowing a detailed evaluation of test article target efficacy.
6. Electron microscopy for ultrastructural evaluation of AAV capsids: These harmless viruses are helping to revive the development of gene therapies. In the production of viral vectors – which have promise in fighting a number of diseases – empty viral capsids devoid of nucleic acid material have been reported as an undesired by-product. However, recent studies have shown that empty capsids may act as a natural decoy. Electron microscopy is the most sensitive way to determine the ratio of empty to full capsids for assessment of drug delivery.
—Danielle Brown, Alfred Inman and Shari Price contributed to this list