Mass spectrometry imaging and the ‘third wave’ of anatomical neuropathology
While biologists view proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids as the building blocks of life, the chemical elements represent the fundamental constituents of a living organism. Cell types, biological functions and even disease processes have unique elemental signatures. In cases where minor and trace elements are directly implicated in the mechanism of a disease this signature can be stark, while other scenarios can arise where subtler changes are apparent. The emerging potential as a tool for clinical pathology will be discussed, highlighting how concurrent advances in technology, image analysis, machine learning, and a growing appreciation that the chemical elements are not regulated in isolation are converging to position elemental imaging as a valuable resource for digital pathology and the decision-making process in treating neurological disorders.
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