Computer and imaging technologies led to the development of digital pathology and the capture and storage of pathological specimens as digitally formatted images. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in digital pathology, such as in three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction, requires analyses of high volumes of data. This results in increased demands for processing and acquisition of digital images of pathology samples. Increased usage cannot be met by the time-consuming, manual, and laborious methods currently used. Therefore, there is a need for automation of techniques used in processing of pathology samples and acquisition of digital images to make them amenable with high-throughput approaches such as AI analysis.
National Cancer Institute inventors developed an automated device with integrated tissue sectioning, staining, scanning, and high-throughput capability. This device integrates pathology sample processing (e.g., sectioning, fixing, and staining) with optical scanning and digital image acquisition. This invention, related to another technology, E-084-2019, is updated to include a coated tape for holding and carrying sample sections as an alternative to a carrier film. The tape carries sequentially cut sample slices into a staining cassette where the slices are simultaneously stained directly on the tape. The tape carrying the stained samples are then fed into the imaging unit. This streamlines the entire process enabling high-throughput preparation of large volumes of samples and data for subsequent AI analysis. As a result of automation, the device saves time, minimizes errors, and reduces wasting reagents and supplies. Automation is expected to reduce sample processing time ten-fold.
The NCI is seeking licensees to develop an automated digital pathology device compatible with high-throughput data analysis.