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Title: Label-Free Macroscopic Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging of Brain Tumors
Advanced stage glioma is the most aggressive form of malignant brain tumors with a short survival time. Real-time pathology assisted, or image guided surgical procedures that eliminate tumors promise to improve the clinical outcome and prolong the lives of patients. Our work is focused on the development of a rapid and sensitive assay for intraoperative diagnostics of glioma and identification of optical markers essential for differentiation between tumors and healthy brain tissues. We utilized fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) of endogenous fluorophores related to metabolism of the glioma from freshly excised brains tissues. Macroscopic time-resolved fluorescence images of three intracranial animal glioma models and surgical samples of patients’ glioblastoma together with the white matter have been collected. Several established and new algorithms were applied to identify the imaging markers of the tumors. We found that fluorescence lifetime parameters characteristic of the glioma provided background for differentiation between the tumors and intact brain tissues. All three rat tumor models demonstrated substantial differences between the malignant and normal tissue. Similarly, tumors from patients demonstrated statistically significant differences from the peritumoral white matter without infiltration. While the data and the analysis presented in this paper are preliminary and further investigation with a larger number more » of samples is required, the proposed approach based on the macroscopic FLIM has a high potential for diagnostics of glioma and evaluation of the surgical margins of gliomas. « less
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Frontiers in Oncology
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract STUDY QUESTION

    Is the combined use of fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM)-based metabolic imaging and second harmonic generation (SHG) spindle imaging a feasible and safe approach for noninvasive embryo assessment?


    Metabolic imaging can sensitively detect meaningful metabolic changes in embryos, SHG produces high-quality images of spindles and the methods do not significantly impair embryo viability.


    Proper metabolism is essential for embryo viability. Metabolic imaging is a well-tested method for measuring metabolism of cells and tissues, but it is unclear if it is sensitive enough and safe enough for use in embryo assessment.


    Thismore »study consisted of time-course experiments and control versus treatment experiments. We monitored the metabolism of 25 mouse oocytes with a noninvasive metabolic imaging system while exposing them to oxamate (cytoplasmic lactate dehydrogenase inhibitor) and rotenone (mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation inhibitor) in series. Mouse embryos (n = 39) were measured every 2 h from the one-cell stage to blastocyst in order to characterize metabolic changes occurring during pre-implantation development. To assess the safety of FLIM illumination, n = 144 illuminated embryos were implanted into n = 12 mice, and n = 108 nonilluminated embryos were implanted into n = 9 mice.


    Experiments were performed in mouse embryos and oocytes. Samples were monitored with noninvasive, FLIM-based metabolic imaging of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) autofluorescence. Between NADH cytoplasm, NADH mitochondria and FAD mitochondria, a single metabolic measurement produces up to 12 quantitative parameters for characterizing the metabolic state of an embryo. For safety experiments, live birth rates and pup weights (mean ± SEM) were used as endpoints. For all test conditions, the level of significance was set at P < 0.05.


    Measured FLIM parameters were highly sensitive to metabolic changes due to both metabolic perturbations and embryo development. For oocytes, metabolic parameter values were compared before and after exposure to oxamate and rotenone. The metabolic measurements provided a basis for complete separation of the data sets. For embryos, metabolic parameter values were compared between the first division and morula stages, morula and blastocyst and first division and blastocyst. The metabolic measurements again completely separated the data sets. Exposure of embryos to excessive illumination dosages (24 measurements) had no significant effect on live birth rate (5.1 ± 0.94 pups/mouse for illuminated group; 5.7 ± 1.74 pups/mouse for control group) or pup weights (1.88 ± 0.10 g for illuminated group; 1.89 ± 0.11 g for control group).


    The study was performed using a mouse model, so conclusions concerning sensitivity and safety may not generalize to human embryos. A limitation of the live birth data is also that although cages were routinely monitored, we could not preclude that some runt pups may have been eaten.


    Promising proof-of-concept results demonstrate that FLIM with SHG provide detailed biological information that may be valuable for the assessment of embryo and oocyte quality. Live birth experiments support the method’s safety, arguing for further studies of the clinical utility of these techniques.


    Supported by the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator Grant at Harvard University and by the Harvard Catalyst/The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Institutes of Health Award UL1 TR001102), by NSF grants DMR-0820484 and PFI-TT-1827309 and by NIH grant R01HD092550-01. T.S. was supported by a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology grant (1308878). S.F. and S.A. were supported by NSF MRSEC DMR-1420382. Becker and Hickl GmbH sponsored the research with the loaning of equipment for FLIM. T.S. and D.N. are cofounders and shareholders of LuminOva, Inc., and co-hold patents (US20150346100A1 and US20170039415A1) for metabolic imaging methods. D.S. is on the scientific advisory board for Cooper Surgical and has stock options with LuminOva, Inc.

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  2. Abstract We demonstrate that structured illumination microscopy has the potential to enhance fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) as an early detection method for oral squamous cell carcinoma. FLIM can be used to monitor or detect changes in the fluorescence lifetime of metabolic cofactors (e.g. NADH and FAD) associated with the onset of carcinogenesis. However, out of focus fluorescence often interferes with this lifetime measurement. Structured illumination fluorescence lifetime imaging (SI-FLIM) addresses this by providing depth-resolved lifetime measurements, and applied to oral mucosa, can localize the collected signal to the epithelium. In this study, the hamster model of oral carcinogenesis wasmore »used to evaluate SI-FLIM in premalignant and malignant oral mucosa. Cheek pouches were imaged in vivo and correlated to histopathological diagnoses. The potential of NADH fluorescence signal and lifetime, as measured by widefield FLIM and SI-FLIM, to differentiate dysplasia (pre-malignancy) from normal tissue was evaluated. ROC analysis was carried out with the task of discriminating between normal tissue and mild dysplasia, when changes in fluorescence characteristics are localized to the epithelium only. The results demonstrate that SI-FLIM (AUC = 0.83) is a significantly better (p-value = 0.031) marker for mild dysplasia when compared to widefield FLIM (AUC = 0.63).« less
  3. Obeid, I. (Ed.)
    The Neural Engineering Data Consortium (NEDC) is developing the Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus (TUDP), an open source database of high-resolution images from scanned pathology samples [1], as part of its National Science Foundation-funded Major Research Instrumentation grant titled “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning” [2]. The long-term goal of this project is to release one million images. We have currently scanned over 100,000 images and are in the process of annotating breast tissue data for our first official corpus release, v1.0.0. This release contains 3,505 annotated images of breast tissue including 74 patients withmore »cancerous diagnoses (out of a total of 296 patients). In this poster, we will present an analysis of this corpus and discuss the challenges we have faced in efficiently producing high quality annotations of breast tissue. It is well known that state of the art algorithms in machine learning require vast amounts of data. Fields such as speech recognition [3], image recognition [4] and text processing [5] are able to deliver impressive performance with complex deep learning models because they have developed large corpora to support training of extremely high-dimensional models (e.g., billions of parameters). Other fields that do not have access to such data resources must rely on techniques in which existing models can be adapted to new datasets [6]. A preliminary version of this breast corpus release was tested in a pilot study using a baseline machine learning system, ResNet18 [7], that leverages several open-source Python tools. The pilot corpus was divided into three sets: train, development, and evaluation. Portions of these slides were manually annotated [1] using the nine labels in Table 1 [8] to identify five to ten examples of pathological features on each slide. Not every pathological feature is annotated, meaning excluded areas can include focuses particular to these labels that are not used for training. A summary of the number of patches within each label is given in Table 2. To maintain a balanced training set, 1,000 patches of each label were used to train the machine learning model. Throughout all sets, only annotated patches were involved in model development. The performance of this model in identifying all the patches in the evaluation set can be seen in the confusion matrix of classification accuracy in Table 3. The highest performing labels were background, 97% correct identification, and artifact, 76% correct identification. A correlation exists between labels with more than 6,000 development patches and accurate performance on the evaluation set. Additionally, these results indicated a need to further refine the annotation of invasive ductal carcinoma (“indc”), inflammation (“infl”), nonneoplastic features (“nneo”), normal (“norm”) and suspicious (“susp”). This pilot experiment motivated changes to the corpus that will be discussed in detail in this poster presentation. To increase the accuracy of the machine learning model, we modified how we addressed underperforming labels. One common source of error arose with how non-background labels were converted into patches. Large areas of background within other labels were isolated within a patch resulting in connective tissue misrepresenting a non-background label. In response, the annotation overlay margins were revised to exclude benign connective tissue in non-background labels. Corresponding patient reports and supporting immunohistochemical stains further guided annotation reviews. The microscopic diagnoses given by the primary pathologist in these reports detail the pathological findings within each tissue site, but not within each specific slide. The microscopic diagnoses informed revisions specifically targeting annotated regions classified as cancerous, ensuring that the labels “indc” and “dcis” were used only in situations where a micropathologist diagnosed it as such. Further differentiation of cancerous and precancerous labels, as well as the location of their focus on a slide, could be accomplished with supplemental immunohistochemically (IHC) stained slides. When distinguishing whether a focus is a nonneoplastic feature versus a cancerous growth, pathologists employ antigen targeting stains to the tissue in question to confirm the diagnosis. For example, a nonneoplastic feature of usual ductal hyperplasia will display diffuse staining for cytokeratin 5 (CK5) and no diffuse staining for estrogen receptor (ER), while a cancerous growth of ductal carcinoma in situ will have negative or focally positive staining for CK5 and diffuse staining for ER [9]. Many tissue samples contain cancerous and non-cancerous features with morphological overlaps that cause variability between annotators. The informative fields IHC slides provide could play an integral role in machine model pathology diagnostics. Following the revisions made on all the annotations, a second experiment was run using ResNet18. Compared to the pilot study, an increase of model prediction accuracy was seen for the labels indc, infl, nneo, norm, and null. This increase is correlated with an increase in annotated area and annotation accuracy. Model performance in identifying the suspicious label decreased by 25% due to the decrease of 57% in the total annotated area described by this label. A summary of the model performance is given in Table 4, which shows the new prediction accuracy and the absolute change in error rate compared to Table 3. The breast tissue subset we are developing includes 3,505 annotated breast pathology slides from 296 patients. The average size of a scanned SVS file is 363 MB. The annotations are stored in an XML format. A CSV version of the annotation file is also available which provides a flat, or simple, annotation that is easy for machine learning researchers to access and interface to their systems. Each patient is identified by an anonymized medical reference number. Within each patient’s directory, one or more sessions are identified, also anonymized to the first of the month in which the sample was taken. These sessions are broken into groupings of tissue taken on that date (in this case, breast tissue). A deidentified patient report stored as a flat text file is also available. Within these slides there are a total of 16,971 total annotated regions with an average of 4.84 annotations per slide. Among those annotations, 8,035 are non-cancerous (normal, background, null, and artifact,) 6,222 are carcinogenic signs (inflammation, nonneoplastic and suspicious,) and 2,714 are cancerous labels (ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive ductal carcinoma in situ.) The individual patients are split up into three sets: train, development, and evaluation. Of the 74 cancerous patients, 20 were allotted for both the development and evaluation sets, while the remain 34 were allotted for train. The remaining 222 patients were split up to preserve the overall distribution of labels within the corpus. This was done in hope of creating control sets for comparable studies. Overall, the development and evaluation sets each have 80 patients, while the training set has 136 patients. In a related component of this project, slides from the Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) Biosample Repository ( -facility) are being digitized in addition to slides provided by Temple University Hospital. This data includes 18 different types of tissue including approximately 38.5% urinary tissue and 16.5% gynecological tissue. These slides and the metadata provided with them are already anonymized and include diagnoses in a spreadsheet with sample and patient ID. We plan to release over 13,000 unannotated slides from the FCCC Corpus simultaneously with v1.0.0 of TUDP. Details of this release will also be discussed in this poster. Few digitally annotated databases of pathology samples like TUDP exist due to the extensive data collection and processing required. The breast corpus subset should be released by November 2021. By December 2021 we should also release the unannotated FCCC data. We are currently annotating urinary tract data as well. We expect to release about 5,600 processed TUH slides in this subset. We have an additional 53,000 unprocessed TUH slides digitized. Corpora of this size will stimulate the development of a new generation of deep learning technology. In clinical settings where resources are limited, an assistive diagnoses model could support pathologists’ workload and even help prioritize suspected cancerous cases. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This material is supported by the National Science Foundation under grants nos. CNS-1726188 and 1925494. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. REFERENCES [1] N. Shawki et al., “The Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus,” in Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology: Emerging Trends in Research and Applications, 1st ed., I. Obeid, I. Selesnick, and J. Picone, Eds. New York City, New York, USA: Springer, 2020, pp. 67 104. [2] J. Picone, T. Farkas, I. Obeid, and Y. Persidsky, “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning.” Major Research Instrumentation (MRI), Division of Computer and Network Systems, Award No. 1726188, January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2021. https://www. [3] A. Gulati et al., “Conformer: Convolution-augmented Transformer for Speech Recognition,” in Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association (INTERSPEECH), 2020, pp. 5036-5040. [4] C.-J. Wu et al., “Machine Learning at Facebook: Understanding Inference at the Edge,” in Proceedings of the IEEE International Symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture (HPCA), 2019, pp. 331–344. [5] I. Caswell and B. Liang, “Recent Advances in Google Translate,” Google AI Blog: The latest from Google Research, 2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Aug-2021]. [6] V. Khalkhali, N. Shawki, V. Shah, M. Golmohammadi, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Low Latency Real-Time Seizure Detection Using Transfer Deep Learning,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2021, pp. 1 7. https://www.isip. [7] J. Picone, T. Farkas, I. Obeid, and Y. Persidsky, “MRI: High Performance Digital Pathology Using Big Data and Machine Learning,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 2020. [8] I. Hunt, S. Husain, J. Simons, I. Obeid, and J. Picone, “Recent Advances in the Temple University Digital Pathology Corpus,” in Proceedings of the IEEE Signal Processing in Medicine and Biology Symposium (SPMB), 2019, pp. 1–4. [9] A. P. Martinez, C. Cohen, K. Z. Hanley, and X. (Bill) Li, “Estrogen Receptor and Cytokeratin 5 Are Reliable Markers to Separate Usual Ductal Hyperplasia From Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia and Low-Grade Ductal Carcinoma In Situ,” Arch. Pathol. Lab. Med., vol. 140, no. 7, pp. 686–689, Apr. 2016.« less
  4. Li Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is a hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome caused by germline mutations in TP53. TP53 is the most common mutated gene in human cancer, occurring in 30–50% of glioblastomas (GBM). Here, we highlight a precision medicine platform to identify potential targets for a GBM patient with LFS. We used a comparative transcriptomics approach to identify genes that are uniquely overexpressed in the LFS GBM patient relative to a cancer compendium of 12,747 tumor RNA sequencing data sets, including 200 GBMs. STAT1 and STAT2 were identified as being significantly overexpressed in the LFS patient, indicating ruxolitinib, a Janus kinasemore »1 and 2 inhibitors, as a potential therapy. The LFS patient had the highest level of STAT1 and STAT2 expression in an institutional high-grade glioma cohort of 45 patients, further supporting the cancer compendium results. To empirically validate the comparative transcriptomics pipeline, we used a combination of adherent and organoid cell culture techniques, including ex vivo patient-derived organoids (PDOs) from four patient-derived cell lines, including the LFS patient. STAT1 and STAT2 expression levels in the four patient-derived cells correlated with levels identified in the respective parent tumors. In both adherent and organoid cultures, cells from the LFS patient were among the most sensitive to ruxolitinib compared to patient-derived cells with lower STAT1 and STAT2 expression levels. A spheroid-based drug screening assay (3D-PREDICT) was performed and used to identify further therapeutic targets. Two targeted therapies were selected for the patient of interest and resulted in radiographic disease stability. This manuscript supports the use of comparative transcriptomics to identify personalized therapeutic targets in a functional precision medicine platform for malignant brain tumors.« less
  5. Abstract

    Glioblastomas are highly malignant brain tumors. Knowledge of growth rates and growth patterns is useful for understanding tumor biology and planning treatment logistics. Based on untreated human glioblastoma data collected in Trondheim, Norway, we first fit the average growth to a Gompertz curve, then find a best fitted white noise term for the growth rate variance. Combining these two fits, we obtain a new type of Gompertz diffusion dynamics, which is a stochastic differential equation (SDE). Newly collected untreated human glioblastoma data in Seattle, US, re-verify our model. Instead of growth curves predicted by deterministic models, our SDE modelmore »predicts a band with a center curve as the tumor size average and its width as the tumor size variance over time. Given the glioblastoma size in a patient, our model can predict the patient survival time with a prescribed probability. The survival time is approximately a normal random variable with simple formulas for its mean and variance in terms of tumor sizes. Our model can be applied to studies of tumor treatments. As a demonstration, we numerically investigate different protocols of surgical resection using our model and provide possible theoretical strategies.

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