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The use of formalin fixed wax embedded tissue for proteomic analysis
  1. Lynda D Ralton,
  2. Graeme I Murray
  1. Department of Pathology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Graeme I Murray, Department of Pathology, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK; g.i.murray{at}


The potential of proteomic approaches to elucidate disease pathogenesis and biomarker discovery is increasingly being recognised. These studies are usually based on the use of fresh tissue samples. Problems in obtaining and storing fresh frozen samples, especially either for the investigation of rare diseases or for the study of microscopic disease foci, have led to the investigation of the possible use of formalin fixed wax embedded tissue for proteomic biomarker detection Overcoming problems with protein cross-linking associated with formalin fixation of tissues, especially by using heat-mediated retrieval techniques combined with highly sensitive methods for protein separation and identification are now emerging, giving promise to the use of formalin fixed wax embedded tissues for proteomic analysis. Formalin fixed wax embedded tissues, together with their associated clinical and pathological information outcome may provide significant potential opportunities for proteomics research. Such studies of formalin fixed wax embedded tissue will allow access to already acquired clinical tissue samples which can be readily correlated with clinical, pathological and outcome data. It also provides access to rare types of tissue/diseases that would be either difficult to collect prospectively in a timely manner or are unlikely to be available as fresh samples. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the issues associated with the use of formalin fixed wax embedded tissues for proteomics.

  • Biomarker
  • 2D gel electrophoresis
  • mass spectrometry
  • neoplasia
  • proteomics
  • analytical methods
  • cancer research
  • molecular oncology, proteins

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  • Funding Research in GIM's laboratory is supported by funding from the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR), NHS Grampian and the University of Aberdeen Development Trust.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.