10 October 2023

Under the Microscope: Episode 4 – NovoPath

Photo 4 Claire

In the fourth edition of “Under the Microscope” Claire Jones introduces us to “NovoPath” and explains the range of services on offer to support diagnostic development.

Hi Claire. Can you introduce yourself and tell me your background, and current role?

I’m the lab manager at Novopath and my background is as an advanced biomedical scientist.

I studied and began my career over 20 years ago in the north east, starting my first role at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough as a trainee biomedical scientist in cellular pathology.

Having spent time working outside of the region and completing a MSc in Biomedical Science, I joined Newcastle Hospitals cellular pathology team.

Novopath began when thanks to a joint Medical Research Council (MRC) grant application with Newcastle University, I was given the opportunity to help create a research lab in this field. Back then the lab was called the Newcastle Molecular Pathology Node specialising in implementing and managing research projects.

I have been lucky enough to see the research capability grow and develop into Novopath.

Tell me about NovoPath

We’re part of the cellular pathology team at Newcastle Hospitals with 11 biomedical scientists and colleagues.

We’re based at The Biosphere in Newcastle Helix, the life sciences quarter.

Our HTA-licensed biobank provides access to over three million archived clinical tissue samples for our clients, and has the ability to prospectively collect to meet research needs.

We provide a number of high-quality diagnostic research services from our lab using cellular pathology techniques for biomarker identification of diseases such as cancer.

Our state-of-the-art equipment, including our multispectral digital imaging scanners, enable us to keep pace with innovative and effective techniques to help our clients improve their research.

What services does NovoPath offer?

We provide access to a wide range of clinical samples and cellular pathology techniques to identify indicators of disease in human tissue.

Our services include histology such as tissue microarray (TMA), immunohistochemistry (IHC), digital pathology, microtomy and cryotomy, tissue processing and embedding, in-situ hybridisation (ISH) and RNA scope.

Our molecular pathology services deliver dissection and microdissection and sterile sectioning and curls for downstream genomic analysis.

More information on our website.

Can you give me some examples of specific projects you’ve worked on?

We work closely with AMLo Biosciences to support the development of cancer biomarkers into a range of diagnostic products to improve patient outcomes and transform care.

We completed the validation of the AMBLor® diagnostic test for stage one and two melanomas and we’ve also supported the development of a UKAS approved referral test for the biomarkers, in advance of UK CA-marking of AMBLor®. This meant that the commercial launch could take place earlier than planned.

We also work closely with FibroFind and the Newcastle Fibrosis Research Group (part of Newcastle University) to provide high quality human tissue samples from our HTA licensed biobank to support their research.

Further case studies can be viewed here.

What does a typical day look like for you?

We work with clients of all sizes from spinouts to international corporations, as well as other NHS organisations and universities.

Our day can begin with online client meetings to discuss projects such as innovative studies in computational and digital pathology, and biomarker discovery.

Our work comprises of special stains, processing and embedding tissue, cutting, and sorting technical slides, TMA construction and managing the biobank. Alongside this we provide quality screening work, project planning and discussions around best practices going forward with the support of the Commercial Team and Melanie Shield, our Senior Commercial Business Manager.

How do companies engage with you and what is the process when they do?

Companies can approach us via email, through our contact page or drop by and talk to us at one of the conferences or networking events we attend.

We also have a dedicated Ethics Committee in which applications for the biobank are submitted to review and approve.

How do you interact with other Diagnostic North East teams?

We work closely with colleagues at the North East Innovation Lab to strengthen our combined offer in the diagnostic pathway.

Dr Donna Nile, senior scientist at the innovation lab is managing our combined biobanks so that we have a strong offer of both liquid and tissue clinical samples which are archived and available prospectively for our clients.

We also work closely with hospital teams and departments, and also Newcastle University to support clients’ research and diagnostic needs. We’re looking forward to more partnership working with the Diagnostics North East team.

What excites you about the role – and what are the challenges?

The move to the Biosphere was both exciting and a real challenge! We needed to move all of our state-of-the-art equipment and our biobank of frozen clinical samples with specialist transport to ensure everything was done in line with safety and regulations.

I’m relieved that things went without any major hitches.

What’s next for NovoPath?

We’re now settled at The Biosphere and we’re looking forward to working more closely with some like-minded businesses in the building and wider Newcastle Helix.

This site brings many new opportunities to collaborate, and we’ll be coming along to the pizza and pitching events to connect and share how we can support companies with diagnostic research services.

How can you be contacted?

We’d really like to hear from you, please drop us a line or give us a call via our contact page. Find out more about our work by visiting our website.