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Research: Help Defeat Cancer: Project FAQs
Help Defeat Cancer

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.

Below is a photo of an actual Tissue Microarray slide. Each of the colored dots is a tissue slice which was an image for a work unit. That image corresponds to the large circle on the left side of the agent (above).

Tissue Microarray slide

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

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

No, scanning TMAs required manual monitoring.

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.

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

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

The round image at the left side of the application window showed the image of a slice of tissue sample, which the members computer processed. The tissues may have been stained with certain compounds to better highlight certain features, such as the nuclei of cells. The square "Filter Mask" in the upper right showed how one of many of the mathematical filters responded to a particular square subsection outlined in the tissue image at the left. The shading showed that particular filter's response value for each point ranging from dark (low response) to light (high response). You could see some correspondence between the outlined area and the Filter Mask. The shading in the "Distance Mask" at the lower right showed how the particular filter's response is relevant to a mathematical pattern being developed over all of the filters. This is a highly oversimplified description of what was displayed and computed. But, it does let you see a glimpse of the computation that was performed.

Help Defeat Cancer Agent Graphics