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Biomarker research imaging laboratory

This lab gives research teams the capability in 3-D histopathology techniques they need to advance their work across many clinical areas, including cancer, brain sciences and cardiovascular, and is a fundamental resource within the Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics.

In cancer, for example, scientists are developing new pathology techniques that capture the entire cross-section of a surgical tissue specimen, so that the relationship between normal and diseased tissue can be better understood. To do this, they take information from these large sections and record it as ultra-high-resolution digital images, which are then used to create a 3-D dataset in which the whole tissue specimen can be inspected.

This technique will enable clinicians to assess more accurately the margins of tumours in surgery or radiation therapy, so that they can be sure they remove or destroy the entire tumour while sparing healthy tissue around it. This is not possible with current techniques in which only small tissue sections are available for analysis.

In collaboration with industry, they are also evaluating a prototype for a biomarker imaging system that would be able to take the "fingerprint" of disease in tissue by measuring several molecular markers simultaneously.

Scientists at Sunnybrook Research Institute are recognized as leaders in this field. With this facility, they are venturing into new areas, such as developing computer-assisted methods to analyze samples automatically, which would be a world's first. The lab also addresses the growing demand from outside researchers to learn techniques in 3-D research pathology that were—and are still being—pioneered here.