High-throughput quantum cascade laser (QCL) spectral histopathology: a practical approach towards clinical translation
Infrared microscopy has become one of the key techniques in the biomedical research field for interrogating tissue. In partnership with multivariate analysis and machine learning techniques, it has become widely accepted as a method that can distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue with both high sensitivity and high specificity. While spectral histopathology (SHP) is highly promising for improved clinical diagnosis, several practical barriers currently exist, which need to be addressed before successful implementation in the clinic. Sample throughput and speed of acquisition are key barriers and have been driven by the high volume of samples awaiting histopathological examination. FTIR chemical imaging utilising FPA technology is currently state-of-the-art for infrared chemical imaging, and recent advances in its technology have dramatically reduced acquisition times. Despite this, infrared microscopy measurements on a tissue microarray (TMA), often encompassing several million spectra, takes several hours to acquire. The problem lies with the vast quantities of data that FTIR collects; each pixel in a chemical image is derived from a full infrared spectrum, itself composed of thousands of individual data points. Furthermore, data management is quickly becoming a barrier to clinical translation and poses the question of how to store these incessantly growing data sets. Recently, doubts have been raised as to whether the full spectral range is actually required for accurate disease diagnosis using SHP. These studies suggest that once spectral biomarkers have been predetermined it may be possible to diagnose disease based on a limited number of discrete spectral features. In this current study, we explore the possibility of utilising discrete frequency chemical imaging for acquiring high-throughput, high-resolution chemical images. Utilising a quantum cascade laser imaging microscope with discrete frequency collection at key diagnostic wavelengths, we demonstrate that we can diagnose prostate cancer with high sensitivity and specificity. Finally we extend the study to a large patient dataset utilising tissue microarrays, and show that high sensitivity and specificity can be achieved using high-throughput, rapid data collection, thereby paving the way for practical implementation in the clinic.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Advanced Vibrational Spectroscopy for Biomedical Applications