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article imageAutomating histology for the busy pathologist

By Tim Sandle     Nov 11, 2017 in Science
Aquaro Histology has obtained investment of $9.8 million to commercialize automated microtomy technology. This is with a device called the Aquaro ASM which is compatible with existing microtomes.
The Aquaro ASM device serves to automate section cutting, relaxing, and mounting on slides, with the aim of reducing the need for constant attention from a histologist. Histopathology, the microscopic study of diseased tissue, is an important tool in anatomical pathology and for disease diagnosis.
The automation of pathology represents a significant growth area within the laboratory and medical sector, with new technologies emerging to make testing faster and allowing pathologists to share images through digital capture and cloud computing. Some of these innovations have been covered by Digital Journal (see β€œDigital pathology market set to expand in 2018.”)
The Aquaro ASM system allows for hands-free microtomy in histology laboratories. This happens by the system transferring paraffin-embedded tissue sections from the blade to slides. A key advantage is that the system can interface with existing motorized microtomes. This means the system can integrate with existing histology laboratory workflows. This process saves time through reducing the number of tasks that need to be performed and by adding automation into the process.
The Aquaro ASM can condition slide sections via user-controlled temperature and time controls. Trials have shown this automation to lead to improved standardization and consistency of sectioning. The device also has a large capacity, and tissue sections can be positioned on the top, middle, or bottom of the slide; or they can be mounted serially; or placed on different levels of the block.
A further advantage with the system is in relation to contamination reduction. The new design incorporates the use of circulating filtered water. This, coupled with having only one section is floating at a time, leads to a lower risk of cross-contamination occurring.
There are also labor savings with the new system. The process of automating the tasks of section cutting, relaxing, and mounting on slides, the device minimizes the amount of technician time and the level of repetitive activity is reduced (which could also lower the risk of repetitive strain injury occurring). This would allow resources to be better allocated within the laboratory.
The commercialization of the system is being advanced through new funding provided by venture capitalists Telegraph Hill Partners. In a statement Aquaro Histology CEO Alberto Elli said: β€œThe Aquaro ASM represents a powerful, automated tool for the histologist. We look forward to bringing our technology to the market.”
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