Help Defeat Cancer

What is Tissue Microarray technology?

Tissue Microarray (TMA) technology is a relatively new investigative tool for harvesting small cylinders of tissue from a range of standard histological sections and arranging them on a on a single microscope glass slide in a grid-like manner. The arrays are subsequently treated with antibodies (proteins which specifically detect and bind to molecular targets of interest) that are complexed with a staining medium to determine the protein and molecular signatures of the underlying pathology of the tissue samples. This technique allows maximization of tissue resources by analysis of small core biopsies of blocks, rather than complete sections. Using this technology, a carefully planned array can be constructed with cases from pathology tissue block archives, such that a 20-year survival analysis can be performed on a cohort of hundreds patients, simultaneously using just a few micro-liters of antibody.

Using TMA technology investigators are beginning to unveil the underlying mechanisms by which healthy tissues are transformed into malignancies and are gaining unparalleled insight as to which patient populations are most likely to respond to a given treatment regimen. TMA’s hold tremendous promise for improved accuracy in prognosis, therapy planning and drug discovery.

How long does the scanner take to scan in a whole slide?

Usually under an hour, but it depends on how many discs are on the specimen.

What is the average number of tissue slices per slide?

Most slides have 300-400 discs. However some of them only have around 100 discs.

Was an automatic slide feeder used?

No, scanning TMAs required manual monitoring.

Why were there not as many work units for the Help Defeat Cancer project?

The data images used in the Tissue Microarrays took a lot of computer processing themselves to assemble into work units. The preprocessing alone required for the generation of the work units was quite sizable. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey had as many computers as they could spare working on creating work units for this project. Unfortunately, there was no way to put the work unit creation process on our grid, but we added the new work units to our grid as soon as they were generated.

How can I find the latest status on the Help Defeat Cancer Project?

The latest status on the Help Defeat Cancer Project may be found here.

Is there a podcast for the Help Defeat Cancer Project?

Yes, you may find a podcast by Dr. David Foran on the News & Media page.