The Visikol research team has developed a novel tissue multiplexing approach which leverages a proprietary antibody stripping reagent combined with traditional fluorescent antibodies and panel co-registration software to allow 10+ plex multiplexing from a single slide. This approach is now being offered as a service to Visikol’s clients and provides them with the ability to use conventional antibodies that have already been validated for use in their tissues with an inexpensive and easy-to-use approach.
The goal of immuno-oncology is threefold: to understand how key cells in the immune system interact with the tumor microenvironment, to understand how these interactions contribute to the outcome of the patient, and to modulate the immune response in a way that reduces tumor growth, ideally toward the elimination of tumor cells. The field of immuno-oncology has necessitated a rapid development of multiplex imaging technologies which allow for all of these markers to be identified from a single slide.
Over the last few years, several technological approaches have been developed to provide researchers with the ability to survey the immune system landscape on slides and to address these complex research questions. However, many of these technologies require expensive imaging or tissue processing equipment and the use of proprietary labeling techniques. The need to spend significant resources to adopt these technologies has limited their widespread use and the inability to use traditionally validated antibodies increases the overall barrier to adoption.
It is because of these short-comings and the need for an easy-to-use multiplexing tool that Visikol has developed a novel multiplex approach for use in its services. The approach leverages traditionally validated antibodies along with standard fluorescent imaging equipment such that it can be easily applied to any therapeutic area of interest. To accomplish multiple rounds of labeling, the technique relies upon the use of a proprietary antibody stripping reagent which removes the primary and secondary antibodies without damaging the tissue or epitopes. After multiple rounds of labeling and imaging are conducted, the data sets are aligned using an elastic co-registration approach that Visikol has developed such that the whole data set can be used to address a researcher’s question. For example, assessing the variety and distribution of immune cells within and around tumor tissue.
This multiplex approach is an addition to Visikol’s advanced imaging services suite and pairs with its pipeline of 2D and 3D digital pathology software that allows the Visikol team to transform terabytes of data into actionable insights for a Client. The company also provides its Clients with access to Imaging Mass Cytometry services if they want to achieve 30+ plex multiplex slide imaging in tandem or in lieu of the Visikol approach and other endpoints.
“As a leading imaging and digital pathology CRO, we always want to provide our Clients with a diverse set of tools such that they can choose the specific tool that best meets their research needs as well as their cost and throughput requirements. For example, one researcher might require whole slide imaging but only six labels at a time and would use the Visikol approach where another researcher might have a block of tissue micro arrays and want to image each for 35 labels and use imaging mass cytometry instead,” described Visikol CEO Michael Johnson, PhD.
There are three steps to starting a multiplexing project with Visikol. First, the researcher discusses with Visikol their specific project needs and the Visikol team conducts a small initial validation study with control samples to demonstrate the labeling panels are effective. After the panels have been validated, they are applied to the researcher’s tissues of interest to generate imaging data and lastly the imaging data is analyzed using Visikol’s 3Screen™ image analysis software to create a quantitative report addressing the researcher’s key questions.