The TASTY (Tools for Analysis of Serial Sections in Microscopy) project aimed to build-up and extensively validate an integrated environment for the analysis of serial sections acquired with conventional optical (light) microscopes. The main objectives were:
- to provide advanced software tools for semi-automatic registration, 3D processing and reconstruction of serial sections, obtained by mechanical slicing, staining and image acquisition
- to port and validate the results of past research in an accessible, low-cost flexible environment connected to a microscope
- to extensively validate and refine the system in close co-operation with end-users and technology providers.
The project developed from earlier research work undertaken with EU and national funding to develop sophisticated software to allow 3D visualisation and other analyses from medical images. The participants included an academic institution with knowledge in the field of image processing, two industrial technology companies and three end users hospitals. The project demonstrated that the technology worked in practice under differing conditions in different countries. Market surveys were undertaken during the definition phase that indicated a very large market potential with little effective competition.
The potential benefits that may accrue from the project were significant. Users include industries, scientific institutions and (para)medical organisations, with applications ranging from 3D microscopy, histology and histopathology, endodontology, anatomy, biology, etc. This means thousands of potential customers in Europe. Despite this demanding market, at present, the software tools commercially available do not properly address the current user needs. Optical microscopes, and even Electron Microscopy (EM), only allow the analysis of one object (section) at a time. Software methods for the reconstruction of volumes from microscopy series of consecutive sections is therefore a crucial task that needs to be carried out to derive the topological evolution of a structure or make any quantitative measurement on samples. A survey of existing products demonstrated that either much of the time-consuming work is still done manually or the tools provided are too specific or error-prone. Furthermore, most of the packages require expensive equipment, usually not available at user's sites. Finally, no commercial packages exist that support 3D real imaging operations.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
CT2 7NZ Canterbury