Ultra-Fast Processing of Gigapixel Tissue MicroArray Images Using High Performance Computing
Background: Tissue MicroArrays (TMAs) are a valuable platform for tissue based translational research and the discovery of tissue biomarkers. The digitised TMA slides or TMA Virtual Slides, are ultra-large digital images, and can contain several hundred samples. The processing of such slides is time-consuming, bottlenecking a potentially high throughput platform.Methods: A High Performance Computing (HPC) platform for the rapid analysis of TMA virtual slides is presented in this study. Using an HP high performance cluster and a centralised dynamic load balancing approach, the simultaneous analysis of multiple tissue-cores were established. This was evaluated on Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer TMAs for complex analysis of tissue pattern and immunohistochemical positivity.Results: The automated processing of a single TMA virtual slide containing 230 patient samples can be significantly speeded up by a factor of circa 22, bringing the analysis time to one minute. Over 90 TMAs could also be analysed simultaneously, speeding up multiplex biomarker experiments enormously.Conclusion: The methodologies developed in this paper provide for the first time a genuine high throughput analysis platform for TMA biomarker discovery that will significantly enhance the reliability and speed for biomarker research. This will have widespread implications in translational tissue based research.