Using Multiplex Imaging and Digital Pathology for IO Therapeutics

Over the last few years, the development of immuno-oncology therapeutics has been on the rise with many leading pharmaceutical companies employing the body’s natural immune system to fight cancer. However, these therapeutics can be extremely costly, and many times are tailored towards individual patients. Therefore, it is crucial that researchers are able to acquire as much data as possible from patient samples to better inform the decision on how patients will be treated, and which patients will receive specific therapeutics. At Visikol, we have developed a suite of digital pathology tools which allow us to easily extract this data to both make more informed decisions during preclinical research and to support clinical trials.

For example, we recently launched a T-cell invasion digital pathology assay that leverages multiplex fluorescent imaging to assesses the penetration of immune cells into a tumor. Once tissue samples are received for this assay as either formalin fixed wet tissues or FFPE blocks, they are processed, sectioned, and stained using fluorescent immunolabeling. The slides are then imaged using a high throughput fluorescent slide scanner to transform the physical slides into digital multi-channel 40X images. These images are then processed and analyzed using Visikol’s propriety image analysis tools to identify each individual cell and to determine based upon its expression profile the type of cell that it is. From this information, the tumor area on each slide can be identified as well as each individual T-cell and its specific expression profile.

Immuno-oncology Heat Map Overlay

The distance that each T-cell has migrated into the tumor area on each slide can then be quantified in aggregate as well as on a T-cell subtype basis. Visikol has used this approach to quantify and visualize the distribution of different immune cells in various tissues which allows for answering questions such as quantifying penetration kinetics and understanding the overall efficacy of a therapeutic. We find that this immunofluorescent approach allows us to acquire as much data as possible from slides such that we can make the best use of expensive and rare tissue samples. With multiplexing we can also add or change markers so that we can answer various types of questions depending on the nature of the project.

Want to learn more about this assay? See our detailed digital pathology assay page.


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