Transforming the histology process

The Technology Research Centre is a key R&D project partner in a consortium of 8 SMEs, gathered from 5 EU countries under the title: Microlean. The successful outcome of which could revolutionise human tissue biopsy sectioning and the wider medical screening process as a whole.

Histology is a complex process requiring several steps for tissue sample preparation and is routinely used for screening of serious diseases including cancer. The project, jointly funded by the European Commission, aims to produce a retrofittable automated microtome system incorporating contactless sample transportation for the histology process, which would address the key challenges to the current process:

• Increasing workload for histology labs, as the need for investigation for serious illness increases due to an ageing population and lifestyle pressures.

• Labour intensive process by highly skilled scientists, whose number is falling due to retirees not being replaced and pressure on health budgets.

In response to this challenge, the consortium of innovative and ambitious SMEs have come together for the 2 year project.

The TRC team has been instrumental in the CAD design of the system and fabrication of key elements including precision automation with inclusion of a vision system to ensure contactless handling of the fragile samples. We have also experimented with and successfully formulated new optimum wax formulations in which the tissue samples are embedded.
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