Analysis of histological sections of disease tissues has traditionally relied on pathologist-based scoring. In an Advanced Online Publication in Nature Medicine Camp et al. describe techniques to automate the analysis of tissue microarrays that contain hundreds of tumour tissue sections arrayed on glass slides (Nature Medicine, doi:10.1038/nm791, October 21, 2002).

Their approach, nicknamed AQUA (Automated Quantitative Analysis), involves a set of algorithms that can distinguish subcellular compartments and quantitatively assess protein localization. Validation experiments demonstrated that the AQUA methodology is at least as good as conventional pathologist-based evaluation. Camp et al. used this technique successfully to assess estrogen receptor immunohistochemistry of breast carcinoma samples and nuclear beta-catenin expression in colon cancer.

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