New Software Opens the Door to Wider Use of 3D Imaging in the Study of Disease

Novel approach reported in The American Journal of Pathology

Philadelphia, PA, April 15, 2012 – Researchers have developed a novel, easy-to-use system for three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction and examination of tissues at microscopic resolution, with the potential to significantly enhance the study of normal and disease processes, particularly those involving structural changes. The new approach, using conventional histopathological methods, is described in the May issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

“The use of 3D imaging technology to study structure, function, and disease manifestations has been limited because of low resolution, and the time and difficulty associated with acquiring large numbers of images with a microscope,” says lead investigator Dr. Darren Treanor, University of Leeds and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, United Kingdom. “Our system can integrate tissue micro-architecture and cellular morphology on large tissue samples. It can be used by technical or medical staff in a histopathology laboratory without input from computing specialists.”

Developed by Dr. Derek Magee at the University of Leeds, the system utilizes automated virtual slide scanners to generate high-resolution digital images and produce 3D tissue reconstructions at a cellular resolution level and can be used on any stained tissue section. It is based on a general image based-registration algorithm and operates using an integrated system that requires minimal manual intervention once the slides are sectioned, stained, and mounted. The virtual slide scanners digitize the tissue automatically, the software communicates with the software serving the image, which aligns the images, and produces visualization in one integrated package. The user can manually select a region, zoom in and re-register the area to get a higher resolution image of microscopic features.

The authors have applied the system to over 300 separate 3D volumes from eight different tissue types, using a total of 5,500 virtual slides. They describe cases that illustrate the possible applications of the system. For example, a 3D volume rendering of a mouse embryo demonstrates that the method could be useful for providing anatomical and expression data and for creating a “virtual archive” of 3D transgenic models. A 3D volume rendering of sections from a human liver containing a deposit of metastatic colorectal carcinoma adjacent to a blood vessel could provide insight into tumor vasculature and its response to anti-angiogenic agents. A 3D visualization of cirrhotic human liver infected with hepatitis C demonstrates the software’s potential to provide information on disease development and aid diagnosis.

“Many fields, including tumor biology, embryology, and cardiovascular disease could benefit from correlation of structure and function in three dimensions, but getting high quality 3D reconstructions has always been difficult” says Dr. Treanor. “We have demonstrated that our software is accurate and robust enough to use without significant computer science input. This system provides the opportunity for increasing use of 3D histopathology as a routine research tool.”


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Notes for editors
“Towards Routine Use of 3D Histopathology As a Research Tool,” by N. Roberts, D. Magee, Y. Song, K. Brabazon, M. Shires, D. Crellin, N.M. Orsi, R. Quirke, P. Quirke, and D. Treanor (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.01.033). It will appear in The American Journal of Pathology, Volume 180, Issue 5 (May 2012) published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact David Sampson at +1 215 239 3171 or ajpmedia@elsevier.com. Journalists wishing to interview the authors may contact Paula Gould, Communications and Press Office, University of Leeds, Tel: +44 113 34 38059, p.a.gould@leeds.ac.uk.

About The American Journal of Pathology
The American Journal of Pathology ( http://ajp.amjpathol.org), official journal of the American Society for Investigative Pathology, seeks to publish high-quality, original papers on the cellular and molecular biology of disease. The editors accept manuscripts that advance basic and translational knowledge of the pathogenesis, classification, diagnosis, and mechanisms of disease, without preference for a specific analytic method. High priority is given to studies on human disease and relevant experimental models using cellular, molecular, animal, biological, chemical, and immunological approaches in conjunction with morphology.

The leading global forum for reporting quality original research on cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease, The American Journal of Pathology is the most highly cited journal in Pathology with an Impact Factor of 5.224 according to Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports® 2010.

About the University of Leeds
One of the UK’s largest medical, health and bioscience research bases, the University of Leeds delivers world leading research in medical engineering, cancer, cardiovascular studies, epidemiology, molecular genetics, musculoskeletal medicine, dentistry, psychology and applied health. Treatments and initiatives developed in Leeds are transforming the lives of people worldwide with conditions such as diabetes, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria ( www.leeds.ac.uk). The Virtual Pathology team at Leeds is dedicated to high quality digital slide scanning, hosting and research ( http://www.virtualpathology.leeds.ac.uk).

About Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest in England and includes two major teaching hospitals, Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s University Hospital, with a strong focus on research and education. It has a total budget of nearly £1 billion, employs over 14,500 staff across six main sites, and treats well over a million patients a year.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence, and ClinicalKey — and publishes nearly 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

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Media contacts
David Sampson
Executive Publisher, Elsevier
+1 215 239 3171
ajpmedia@elsevier.com

Dr. Audra E. Cox
Managing Editor, The American Journal of Pathology
+1 301 634 7409
acox@asip.org