Tissue Microarrays: A Current Medical Research Tool

Iqbal S. Shergill; N. K. Shergill; M. Arya; H. R. H. Patel


Curr Med Res Opin. 2004;20(5) 

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Attempts have been made to automate the process of TMA construction. Various machines are now available which may array single and multiple TMA blocks in an even shorter period of time than is currently performed manually.[10,37] Furthermore, major attempts are now in progress to automate the data analysis step. This process was initiated by acquiring and storing digital images of the TMA on a computer using technology such as BLISS (the Bacus Labs Incorporated Slide Scanner).[38,39] Furthermore, Camp et al.,[40] have developed a system which uses fluorescent imaging to quantifying TMA cores at the sub-cellular level, to provide a score that is directly proportional to the number of molecules expressed per unit area. This is termed Automated quantitative analysis, or AQUA, and if further validated, may eventually eliminate the need for a pathologist to interpret each TMA core. Software programs have also been developed to aid in the analysis of immunohistochemistry staining data.[41] One such program, called Treeview, allows for rapid transformation of immunohistochemistry data into a format that can be used for cluster analysis.[42] As can be observed in Figure 1, the majority of time taken to perform a TMA study is on data analysis. From this, one can conclude that automated construction will probably have little impact on speed of TMA construction, except in extremely large research units, whereas automated analysis will significantly reduce the overall time required to complete a study.

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have created the Tissue Array Research Program (TARP) in an attempt to promote research and development of TMAs.[43] The overall aims of TARP are to produce TMAs for use by the research community, to provide assistance in arraying unique tissue materials, such as those from clinical trial groups, and to provide training, workshops and protocols regarding TMA technology.