Founded in 2003, MicroMorph is a histology service company based at the Ideon science park in Lund, Sweden. It provides immunohistochemistry and microscopy analyses for academia and biopharma industry.
Bringing experience from the pharma industry, academic research and clinical pathology, MicroMorph and its team of pathologists, histologists and lab technicians have carried out histology studies for biopharma companies and academic groups in Scandinavia for a decade and a half. The company’s focus is in preclinical tumour models and tumour biopsies from clinical studies, but has also worked on inflammation, CNS and skin studies, and in autoimmune studies, including experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice.
“We can be the pathology experts for academic teams and for small and medium-sized companies that don’t have the in-house knowledge,” said Lennart Ohlsson, founder and CEO.
Bringing histology to its customers
As a specialist histology company, MicroMorph works with a wide range of techniques including immunohistochemistry, routine staining methods, and special staining techniques. It also offers microscopical analyses, micro-photography, image analysis quantification and a full report tailored to each customer.
“What I believe makes MicroMorph different is our professional pathology expertise, the high quality of our work, our speed and timeliness of delivery and our engagement in each project,” said Ohlsson.
Focussing in on the cells
MicroMorph works alongside researchers on animal models, helping the scientists to understand the basis of disease and the impact of different drugs.
Treatment in animal models of cancer sometimes only leads to a modest reduction, and it’s hard to see what effect the drug has had. Killed tumour cells may be replaced by stromal tissue, and its only possible to see the differences in the tumour cells and tumour stromal components after histological analysis.
“Analysis of the relationship between tumour cells and stromal tissue could add valuable information concerning the therapeutic effects of the investigated drug,” said Ohlsson.
Other parameters that could be of interest to investigators, and that can be assessed in histological analysis, are: the degrees of tumour cell proliferation and programmed cell death; the extent of infiltration of various effector cells; the presence or absence of biomarkers; the levels of effector molecule production and expression of target antigens; and the blood vessel density.
“We are not just a preclinical-stage company; we have been involved in several clinical phase I/II studies. Tumour biopsies of patients in drug trials are collected after treatment and sent to MicroMorph for further investigation. Services we provide include target validation, Ki67 activity, assessment of apoptosis, levels of infiltration of T cells and macrophages, analysis of PD1 and PD-L1 expression, and measurement of blood vessel density,” said Ohlsson.
For companies developing therapeutic antibodies, MicroMorph can also assess antibody binding to diseased tissue for target validation, and binding to normal tissues to check for cross reactivity.
“For these analyses we have access to a large panel of human normal and malignant tissues and normal tissues from mammals like mouse, rat and cynomolgus monkey,” adds Ohlsson.