OCT 05, 2016 12:00 PM PDT

Label-free FTIR imaging to distinguish malignant from non-malignant tissues

  • Chair of Biophysics and Professor, Ruhr-University Bochum, Department of Biophysics, Bochum, Germany
      Klaus Gerwert studied physics in Münster and received his doctorate in 1985 in biophysical chemistry in Freiburg. After positions at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology in Dortmund and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, USA, he accepted a university professorship in biophysics at Ruhr University Bochum in 1993. He is Fellow of the Max Planck Society since 2008, has been Director at the Max Planck Partner Institute for Computational Biology (PICB) at Shanghai, China, from 2008 to 2013. Gerwert actively promotes the development and application of vibrational spectroscopy in protein research, and is the holder of several patents. He is internationally recognized for his studies on protein structures, functions, and interactions at different scales: in vitro, at membranes and in vivo. Molecular biology, X-ray structure analysis, optical spectroscopy, in particular vibrational spectroscopy as infrared (IR) and Raman, are all well established in the department. In 2010, he founded the European "Protein Research Unit Ruhr within Europe" (PURE) with clinician colleagues. He is the founding director of ProDi, a federal/state-financed research center for molecular protein diagnostics including label-free FTIR imaging techniques applications in clinical research.


    FTIR spectroscopic imaging is an emerging tool for label-free, non-destructive characterization of tissues. The pathological annotation of tissue can be performed in an automated and objective manner, consistent with existing pathology sample workflows with high sensitivity and specificity often over 95% respectively. The approach is applied to fresh frozen or formalin fixed paraffin embedded thin sections of tissue biopsies (e.g. surgical resections or tissue microarrays) with spectral databases for colon, bladder and lung having been established to characterize tissue types. As part of working towards identifying differences between malignant and non –malignant samples as part of a research tool we were able to differentiate between the predictive subtypes of the adenocarcinoma in lung cancer tissue. It was also possible to grade colon cancer tissue as per current classification methods using FTIR imaging. In recent not yet published studies, this label-free technique was combined with laser-microdissection. Thereby the heterogeneity of tumor samples is overcome and homogenous cancer samples are provided for proteome-analysis and Next-Generation-Sequencing allowing for more accurate and sensitive analysis.   This approach is applied to differentiate subtypes of mesothelioma cancer and corresponding biomarkers were identified.

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