Sunnybrook medical oncologist Dr. Kasia Jerzak and Odette Cancer Research Program scientist William Tran, PhD, are using a digital pathology system and the power of artificial intelligence to find biomarkers and assess treatment response for breast cancer.
Donor support enabled the purchase of the digital pathology system, which is capable of mapping breast tissue samples and producing an intricate depiction of the tumour’s biology in just a few hours — one-third of the time of the previous manual screening and analysis process.
With the digital pathology system now being used in both clinical and research contexts, the accelerated timeline will both reduce stress for current patients who are awaiting test results and support Dr. Jerzak and Dr. Tran’s work to improve the effectiveness of treatment planning.
Drs. Jerzak and Tran are using data from past breast biopsies to develop algorithms that can help clinicians better understand which treatment will be most effective for patients with aggressive tumours. The team is using 1,200 breast samples as the baseline requirement for the data set, with 800 biopsies analyzed by the Sunnybrook team and an additional 400 contributed by Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
They have already mapped more than 450 samples and are hopeful to have a functional algorithm integrated into clinical practice by the end of next year.