Immunohistochemistry (IHC) Resources


Researchers adding slides to the DISCOVERY ULTRA in order to detect disease using immunohistochemistry (IHC) techniques.
Although the first immunohistochemical experiments took place in the 1940s, IHC remained a largely manual process until the 1980s.

The advent of microprocessor-controlled robotics enabled the automation of previously manual tasks, and freed laboratory technicians to make more valuable use of their time.

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Fully automated IHC/ISH research

A pioneer in IHC automation, Ventana launched the “ES” automated stainer in 1988. Since that time, customer feedback and innovative engineering have combined to continually improve the sophistication, reliability, and high-quality staining performance of the BenchMark and DISCOVERY ULTRA instrument platforms. Today, the DISCOVERY ULTRA instrument and Universal Procedure Software lead the way in the research and development environments of leading pharmaceutical companies, Contract Research Organizations (CRO) and Academic Medical Centers.  

Similarly, the closely related BenchMark ULTRA is the leading clinical IVD automated staining platform in the world. Every minute, 95 patient samples—more than 50 million a year—are stained on BenchMark IHC systems around the world, providing consistent, reproducible quality.*

* Source: 2019 Market Book

Advantages of IHC and ISH automation

IHC and ISH experiments can be expensive and time consuming. Automation of IHC and ISH brings several advantages over manual staining on the bench.

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Efficiency – do more with less 

  • Free lab personnel to do more valuable work
  • Optimize IHC and ISH workflow 
  • Automate highly advanced protocols
  • 30 independent slide drawers allow 30 independent experiments simultaneously!
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Quality – increase consistency and reproducibility

  • Reduce staining failure due to human error
  • Precisely reproduce protocols 
  • Easily replicate results in multiple locations
  • Ensure uniform staining with liquid coverslip and air vortex mixing technology
Software flexibility

Protocol flexibility is enabled by the Universal Procedure Software  

Software that runs automated staining instruments for clinical diagnostics is limited in protocol design for the purposes of clinical safety. Software for a research instrument can be far more open and flexible than that of a clinical instrument because it is not under the constraints of regulations that apply to the FDA-approved clinical IVD testing environment.

After more than a decade of listening to and collaborating with our Research customers, Roche DISCOVERY Universal Procedure Software has evolved to have unparalleled flexibility, and enables researchers to perform multiplexing experiments of high complexity with both chromogenic and fluorescent assays.

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Roche DISCOVERY Universal Procedure Software Flexibility Highlights

  • Open to 3rd party reagents
  • Manual touchpoints at many points during the procedure 
  • Flexibility to support diverse assays 
  • Up to 9 sequential detection steps
  • Clear path to transition assays to the BenchMark ULTRA clinical platform for clinical trials and commercialization
Workflow flexibility

There are two choices in automated staining workflows: batched drawers and individual staining drawers. Batched drawers contain multiple slides, but this design results in a number of constraints that negatively impact lab workflow and experimental flexibility. For example, in a batched system, the protocols for each slide must all employ the same temperature. Further, batched drawers must remain locked until the longest protocol is finished, and this reduces workflow efficiency.

Maximizing flexibility, efficiency, and throughput in research histology with full automation and continuous random access white paper

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Maximizing flexibility, efficiency, and throughput in research histology with full automation and continuous random access

A comparative workflow analysis for automated chromogenic immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH) staining

Overview: Continuous random access to independent, single-slide reaction chambers maximizes protocol flexibility, allowing technicians to shape the platform to meet varying project requirements while enabling laboratories to operate at full instrument capacity at all times.

The use of independent, single slide drawers has several advantages over batched drawers for flexibility and workflow
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Greater workflow flexibility and efficiency 

Individual slide drawers allow instrument operation at maximum capacity by running ISH samples alongside IHC samples, long and short protocols, and different detection chemistries simultaneously. Unlike batch processing, when the slide is ready, it can be immediately removed and coverslipped.

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Do more types of experiments simultaneously  

Individual slide drawers enable labs to run a higher number of different protocols simultaneously.

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Save time  

With batched staining workflow, lab personnel are required to take time out to figure out the best way to group slides for staining, which lowers productivity. This laborious step is eliminated by the use of individual staining drawers.

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Easily accommodate high-priority samples   

With individual slide drawers, open drawers can be immediately started without disrupting other runs or overall productivity.

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Independent temperature control   

Unlike batched drawers locked to one temperature, individual slide drawers have completely independent temperature control—slide by slide.

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Enable manual touchpoints    

With the Roche Universal Protocol software, manual touchpoints can be placed virtually anywhere within protocols enabling you to do whatever crazy thing you’d like to do at any time during the run! This is not something that can be done with batched drawers that remain locked during the duration of the longest staining protocol in the drawer.  

Reagent flexibility

The DISCOVERY ULTRA platform is completely open to the use of reagents of your choice and sources. This flexibility is enabled by user-fillable dispensers and Universal Protocol software.

Innovative technologies improve IHC/ISH stainingspecificity, sensitivity, and quality

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technically advanced detection

Technically Advanced Detection

Roche researchers have developed sophisticated detection chemistries and unique chromogens that are specifically optimized for IHC, ISH, and multiplexing. 

For more information, visit these resource pages:

bar code reader

Barcode Reader 

  • Both reagent delivery and slide protocols are driven by barcodes to reduce staining errors and enable specimen tracking
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DISCOVERY instruments and reagents are for research use only. Not for diagnostic purposes.