Drug Development Program (DDP) Histology and Biomarker Laboratory

University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

Provides services for histological specimen processing and automated slide-based biomarker methods (protein/RNA/DNA) following good clinical practices.

Areas of expertise

The Drug Development Program (DDP) Histology and Biomarker Laboratory is a research histo-immuno lab that offers services to process tissue specimens including formalin-fix, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) blocks, optimal cutting temperature (OCT), unstained sections for slide-based assays and histological evaluations. Biomarker assays including immunohistochemistry (IHC), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), mRNA in situ hybridization (mRNA ISH), and multiplex assays are performed using a state-of-the-art clinical grade equivalent automated slide stainer system to provide high quality, reproducible staining essential for preclinical and clinical research using specimens from human and patient-derived tumor models including xenografts and organoids.

Research services
  • Automated, high flexibility, high volume for robust IHC, and FISH, mRNA ISH slide staining and multiplex assays using the state-of-the-art DISCOVERY ULTRA Research Staining system.
  • Specimen processing using standard operating procedures.
  • Customized specimen processing and method development for slide-based technologies.
  • Expertise in correlatives clinical research specimen processes and biomarkers.
  • Expertise in pre-clinical research and handling of patient-derived tumor xenografts and organoid models.
Sectors of application
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment



Roche Diagnostics DISCOVERY ULTRA Research Staining system

Automated, flexible, high-throughput workflow to support multiple slide-based biomarker assays including IHC (immunohistochemistry), IF (immunofluorescence), ISH (in situ hybridization), SISH (Silver-enhanced in situ hybridization) and multiplexing capabilities.

Leica CM1950 Cryostat

Cuts frozen specimen thin (microns) sections.

Sakura Finetek Tissue-Tek VIP 5 Vacuum Infiltration Processor

Prepares the specimens for fixation, dehydration, clearing and infiltration of paraffin.

Sakura Finetek Tissue-Tek TEC 5 Tissue Embedding Console System

Supports the placement of specimens in a supporting medium mold, typically paraffin, to enable cutting of thin sections using a microtome.

Microm HM 325 Microtome

Cuts thin paraffin specimen layers, typically from 1 micron to 10 microns.

Leica RM2255 Fully Automated Rotary Microtome

Cuts thin paraffin specimen layers, typically from 1 micron to 10 microns.

Meisei Electric RCM-3655 automated coverslipping unit

Slide preparation.

Milestone MicroMED T/T MEGA Microwave Tissue Processor

Antigen retrieval.

Fisher Scientific Isotemp Oven

Slide baking for paraffin samples.

Zeiss Axioskop Light Microscope

Slide viewing.

Olympus BH2 Light Microscope

Slide viewing.