Recently, the Immunopathology (IP) laboratory in LMP acquired some new immunohistochemistry stainers that are faster, more flexible and will improve turnaround time for our patients.
“We received our first new machine back in 2013,” said Pam McCartin, MLT. “They are absolute powerhouses in terms of what they can do with our specialized antibodies and a new immunodetection system in order to label specific antigens in our patient’s slides. But, it took some time to get these machines up and running. The vendor has a set of metrics that we need to hit. But, we have our own high standards, as well, and we worked hard in order to assure ourselves that the strainers can meet our goals.”
It can take days – weeks – months – of invested time and energy from the laboratory staff in order to qualify and validate the equipment first to make sure that they are up to snuff. Then the team has to optimize staining protocols for each antibody, and validate these against known patient materials, and then continue to validate prospectively in the routine clinical testing environment.
“The other machines, some of which we still have in operation during this transition, were workhorses of a previous technological generation,” said Laurie Mason, Manager, Pathology. “But, in LMP we have incredibly high volumes, very complex cases and we needed equipment that would keep up with the challenge required for greater sensitivity of testing and improved workflow. The team has done a tremendous job at getting this equipment up and running.
“It was no small feat of perseverance and skill, but they rose to the challenge admirably, with the medical leadership of Dr. Emina Torlakovic and Dr. Elizabeth Hyjek,” added Laurie. “And of significant note, this project was undertaken with the Lakeridge team who, as part of our standardization between partner sites, acquired the same instrument platform and been a terrific contributor to the alignment and validation process. Their help continues to be valuable, and ensures patient testing is performed to the same standard of care, regardless of where it is performed.”
With the new stainers there is no batching required, which means that there can be a continuous feed of slides into the machines.
“The new system uses over 200 different antibodies and probes,” said Barb Terrett, MLT. “You have to test them all. Everyone worked together – our vendors, medical director, the lab staff, management – to ensure that the everything was up to our high standard.”
The team isn’t done yet and doesn’t expect to complete the final installations under spring 2014, but the new stainers are already making a significant difference to the team.
“It’s faster and better for the patient. Everything we could ask for.” said Pam.
“But the work doesn’t end there,” said Laurie. “We are now in an RFP process with Lakeridge Health and Sunnybrook for a second level testing platform in immunopathology. Again aligning standard of care testing between all three sites. Now how cool is that?”