Partnership integrates label-free molecular histology and optical microscopy for research

JUNE 1, 2009--Bruker Daltonik GmbH (Bremen, Germany) and Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH (Jena, Germany) say they have integrated the MIRAX Virtual Slide Scanner from Carl Zeiss into Bruker's MALDI Molecular Imager. The partners' goal is to advance molecular histology research by providing an integrated solution for biological tissue research and pathology that adds non-targeted molecular information and 'molecular contrast' to histology.

The MALDI Molecular Imager is a molecular imaging system based on matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectrometry directly from tissue sections. It allows histology researchers to measure spatially resolved peptide, protein and lipid profiles in tissue sections. MALDI is a non-targeted, broadly applicable molecular imaging approach that does not require antibody or nucleotide probes. Tissue-type specific molecular signatures (e.g. from tumors) can be generated and used for biomarker discovery and molecular histology.

There has been major bottleneck in the use of MALDI imaging data in pathology research, though, in terms of results interpretation in a histological context. Until now, this has required repeated switching between evaluated MALDI molecular images and microscope views. The integration of Carl Zeiss' MIRAX Slide Scanner results into the MALDI Molecular Imager solution allows the direct overlay of the full microscopic image with the full molecular and spectral information in one convenient visualization software tool, enabling true untargeted molecular histology.

Dr. Sören-Oliver Deininger, MALDI Imaging Product Specialist at Bruker Daltonics, explained: "Bruker has been the market and commercial technology leader in MALDI imaging for several years. Proprietary technologies such as the smartbeam laser for best spectra quality at highest speed and best spatial resolution, as well as the Bruker ImagePrep for easy and reproducible sample preparation, have turned MALDI imaging into a mainstream research application. Now, the full integration of the MIRAX virtual slides allows tissue and pathology researchers for the first time to evaluate their results directly in the histological context with the full spatial resolution of optical microscopy and the molecular information from MALDI imaging.

"This integrated molecular histology solution will significantly accelerate clinical pathology research, particularly in oncology, where the untargeted molecular information is expected to reveal additional subtle changes in tissue that cannot be distinguished by traditional histology methods today."

"The integration of the MIRAX Virtual Slide Scanner into the MALDI Molecular Imager solution is a very good example of how the combination of two innovative technologies can create new benefits for biomedical research. With two technology leaders working together, we believe that we have a strong foundation for a novel, breakthrough histology solution. We look forward to working closely together with Bruker," said Dr. Richard Ankerhold, business unit manager from Carl Zeiss.

Dr. Axel Walch, a pathologist at the Helmholtz Centre in Munich, and a user of both the MALDI Molecular Imager and the MIRAX slide scanner, commented: "The protein expression observed in MALDI Imaging data cannot be fully understood without the underlying histological information: the correlation of the MALDI image with a micrometer-resolution microscopic image is therefore mandatory for MALDI Imaging in clinical research. The Zeiss Mirax Scanner has the true advantage of online scalable high lateral resolution that can zoom in quickly to any tissue sections investigated by MALDI. Merging both techniques, Bruker MALDI Imaging and MIRAX virtual microscopy, leads to synergistic effects with outstanding benefits for clinical research. It truly completes the superior Bruker product line for imaging comprising of sample preparation, high performance MALDI mass spectrometry and highly sophisticated software for data interpretation."

For further information, please visit the page on Bruker's site discussing the integration.

Posted by Barbara G. Goode, barbarag@pennwell.com, for BioOptics World.

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