Researchers Develop New Biopsy Technology to Profile Multiple Biomarkers of the Tumor Microenvironment


A team led by the University of California, Irvine researchers have developed new biopsy technology that can profile multiple tumor microenvironmental biomarkers simultaneously, revealing cellular spatial organization and interactions that will help advance diagnosis and personalized treatment of diseases. Current single biomarker biopsies lack the ability to analyze many different markers and often fail to predict patient outcomes.

Referred to as the Multi Omic single-scan assay with integrated combinatorial analysis, the fluorescence imaging-based technology can spatially profile a large number of mRNAs and protein markers in cells and tissues, including clinical tumor tissues. A study published today in Nature Communication shows that MOSAICA enables direct and highly multiplexed profiling of biomarkers in a 3D spatial context using a single cycle of staining and imaging instead of the repeated processing steps typically required in conventional methods.

Clinicians and scientists will now have a holistic view of the different types of immune and cancer cells in tumor tissue, providing a better understanding for determining patient prognosis and treatment.

Space biology is a new scientific frontier, and mapping each cell and its function in the body at the molecular and tissue level is fundamental to understanding disease and developing precision diagnostics and therapies. Many anti-cancer immunotherapeutics, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, do not work, and scientists realized this was because of the spatial organization of all cell types in tumor tissue, which dictates the effectiveness of medications. MOSAICA can characterize spatial cellular compositions and interactions in the tumor immune microenvironment in biopsies to inform personalized diagnosis and treatment. “

Weian Zhao, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UCI and co-author of the study

A start-up called Arvetas Biosciences, Inc. was co-founded by Zhao and Alan K. Hauser, Ph.D., to further develop and commercialize the technology for widespread use, ranging from oncology to neurological disorders. The company is incubated at University Lab Partners and is supported by UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Arvetas recently received a $ 400,000 Small Business Innovation Research Grant (75N91021C00021-0-9999-1) from the National Cancer Institute to refine and further validate technology in translational oncology.

The research team also included Enrico Gratton, Ph.D., professor of biomedical medical engineering at UCI and study co-author, as well as Jie Wu, Anand Ganesan, Joshua Gu, Jessica Shui, Linzi Hosohama, Christopher Douglas and Marian L. Waterman, all from the UCI School of Medicine; Tam Vu, Alexander Vallmitjana, Kieu La and Qi Xu from the Samueli School of Engineering at the UCI; Jan Zimak and Per Niklas from the UCI School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Jesus Flores of the CIRM Stem Cell Research Biotechnology Program at California State University, Long Beach.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants U54CA217378, P30AR075047, P30CA062203, NIH / NIGMS R21GM135493, P41GM103540, S10OD025017, AI 060573 and NS082174), National Science Foundation (grants CHE-0722539285, DGE-la grant) Balsells and UCI Precision Health through Artificial Intelligence Initiative.


University of California, Irvine

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