March 9, 2015

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research scientist wins 2014 Roger Cotton Prize for Histopathology.

TORONTO, ON (March 9, 2015) — Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today congratulated Mary Anne Quintayo, recipient of the 2014 Roger Cotton Prize for Histopathology for her paper on virtual tissue microarrays. The prize is awarded annually to the best paper published the previous year in the journal Histopathology.

The paper demonstrates that virtual tissue microarrays have many benefits over traditional physical microarrays and constitute an important new tool in digital pathology for both research and clinical settings. Testing was performed on breast cancer samples but the results would be replicable across a broad range of cancers.

“I congratulate Mary Anne Quintayo on this award,” said Dr. Hudson. “Her innovative work has the potential for significant applications to pathology research worldwide, for many different types of cancer. OICR is proud to support this research and delighted with the international recognition it has received.”

“This is an elegant solution to a pathology question and an important new technique for histopathology,” said Dr. John Bartlett, Program Leader of OICR’s Transformative Pathology Program. “This technique provides the opportunity for researchers to perform validation faster, move toward the research environment much more efficiently and to improve the validity of research findings. This allows for more flexibility to analyze many more samples and for researchers to ask more questions of interest.”

“It is contributions from individuals like Mary Anne Quintayo that make Ontario a world leader in cancer research. Her work with virtual tissue microarrays has the potential to significantly impact the lives of patients living with cancer here in Ontario and around the globe. I want to congratulate Quintayo on her award and everyone at OICR for the ground breaking research they do each and every day,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation.

This study forms part of an ongoing collaboration addressing challenges relating to early cancer, a key OICR strategic objective. The Improved Management of Early Cancer initiative links multiple research projects to seek to accurately diagnose early cancers, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), to avoid overtreatment. This study links researchers at OICR and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in a collaborative network targeting this challenging disease.

Tissue microarrays (TMAs) are an excellent research tool for high throughput analysis of large patient cohorts because they are both economical and rapid. They act as tiny tumour banks on a slide, assisting researchers in analyzing hundreds of samples simultaneously. The challenge for researchers is in knowing how many cores are needed in a particular section to be certain the samples accurately represent the tumour as a whole. The conventional way of doing this is to create and then analyze real microarrays with multiple cores. This can be time consuming for researchers.

Quintayo’s new technique allows researchers to drop virtual cores onto a single slide, representing a computer simulation of multiple TMA cores. It then uses an image analysis system to “mirror” the same cores on sequential sections to assess the impact of creating TMAs across multiple biomarkers using a computer. It does the same work, but faster and more economically than researchers manually constructing multiple replicate TMAs and staining them individually.

The work was published in the January 2014 issue of the journal Histopathology. Histopathology is published on behalf of the British Division of the International Academy of Pathology (BDIAP). The society aims to advance pathology through improving methods of teaching pathology, coordination of pathology with allied sciences and techniques, promoting pathology research and convocation of meetings and congresses to facilitate the exchange of ideas.