Why did you decide to incorporate mIHC using the Vectra Polaris in your study? What is the value of multiplex IHC in infectious disease research?
Quite honestly, I got tired of reading about how multiplexed IHC was being utilized to generate quantitative temporospatial outputs that could be used to predict patient outcomes to immunomodulatory treatments. Why should the oncopathologist have all the fun, I thought to myself. I also became frustrated by the limitations of routine pathologic approaches and knew I had more to offer the research teams I work with by adapting novel technologies into my workflow. I realized that the complete absence of quantitative pathology in the infectious disease realm represented a great opportunity to define the value through my own lens. I’d like to think the value of these approaches are endless, with the primary restriction being our imaginations.
I also became frustrated by the lack of capacity for correlating pathology datasets with other study modalities. Generation of quantitative continuous outputs solved this problem and allows for very powerful statistical modeling and establishment of clinicopathological correlates of disease.
The Vectra Polaris Quantitative Pathology Imaging System
I’ve used pretty much every slide scanner on the market. There are a small handful I really like, with the Vectra Polaris falling into that department. The biggest advantage they offer, which no one else has been able to match, is their integrated multispectral unmixing workflow. This technology does wonders in enhancing the sensitivity, and thus biological accuracy, of signal while simultaneously removing tissue autofluorescence. This plays a critical role in enhancing the ease of subsequent image analysis that cannot be overstated enough. Furthermore, Akoya’s arsenal of compatible Opal fluorophores and unique filter sets allows for rapid acquisition of high plex assays, ensuring we harvest every ounce of biologically relevant data we can from a single tissue section.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your lab? Are you planning any research around COVID-19?
The last few months have been inspirational from a research standpoint. Across the commonwealth, we’re fostering new collaborations at an accelerated pace driven by our shared motivation to alleviate the ongoing crisis. A great example is the establishment of the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness (MassCPR). Their mission is to develop and invest in both the research process and supporting infrastructure to address the current global COVID-19 pandemic, and better position the Consortium for potential future outbreaks. I serve as a member of the pathogenesis working group within the consortium, where my collaborators continue to expand and grow with each coming week. Given the novelty of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there is so much that remains unknown, and this collaborative approach is our best chance to make meaningful differences in a timely fashion.
Some of the more immediate projects in my laboratory are the development of tools, such as multiplex IHC and ISH assays, to best characterize a broad array of animal models and evaluate their translational relevance and value in developing medical counter measures, including therapeutics and vaccines. I also have ongoing collaborations to characterize COVID-19 disease in human autopsy cases through my MD departmental partners.
I am grateful to have access to a Vectra Polaris Quantitative Pathology Imaging System through a collaborator. I’m actively writing a shared instrument grant to acquire a Vectra Polaris for the Boston University Medical Campus which would be integrated into a core facility with a complimentary dedicated computer laboratory armed with inFORM licenses. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as a leader in establishing the value computational pathology, or “pathomics”, serves in research discovery.