Pathologists use light microscopes for the diagnosis of diseases in tissue sections on glass slides since the development of the modern pathology by Rudolf Virchow in 1858. However, the rapid development of information technology during the last three decades is now also reaching this sanctuary of pathology as they have reached almost all aspects of modern life.
The new technologies of digital pathology allow for the digitization of glass slides, to visualize them on the screen, analyze them automatically and to exchange this information rapidly via networks. Digital pathology has been integrated in some pathological routine labs already and it is expected to be an integral component of veterinary pathology in the future.
Our group is currently evaluating and validating the potential of digital pathology in diagnostics, research and education and aims at developing new approaches for the automated image analysis of histological and cytopathologic specimens.
In cooperation with international pharmaceutical companies and contract research organization we are currently developing innovative, more efficient methods for the preclinical studies in drug safety and efficacy. A major focus is to increase the sensitivity and reproducibility of the histopathologic analysis using digital approaches and surrogate markers.
The molecular basis of carcinogenesis of mainly canine and feline tumors are investigated in several projects. A major focus is on the search for genes and their products with relevance for the development, diagnosis, prognosis and therapy of tumors in dogs and cats, including circulating tumor cells.
Recent progress in macrophage research describe macrophages as more than pure antigen phagocytosing and presenting and thus pro-inflammatory cells involved in immune reactions. Quite contrary, both, pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages, the diverse regulatory M2 macrophage subtypes and even foreign body giant cells (FBGC) are necessary for the defense against against most noxae but also for repair and regeneration of the damaged tissue.
Most data and distinguishing markers for the multiple macrophage subgroups are obtained by in vitro models. In our current research we are aiming at the analysis of the macrophage dichotomy in the murine and canine model in vivo. In a first step we are currently testing numerous proposed M1- and M2-marker mainly in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue samples of different disease models in an explorative and descriptive approach.
Ageing is a physiologic process, which is associated with an increases the susceptibility to develop to several disease, including civilization diseases including neoplasia. For instance, it is thought that the ageing of the microenvironment has an major impact on the progression of tumors. The accumulation of senescent cells, which are in permanent arrest of cell proliferation, is thought to make an important contribution to tumor development. In several projects we are currently investigating the occurrence and association of senescent cells in age associated disease, including neoplasia.