A Very Spatial Year Full of Vizgen Milestones
2023 marked an exciting year of Vizgen milestones and progress. As we start off the new year, let’s take a look at our accomplishments over the past 12 months:
Vizgen Milestones: Company Updates
To support the continued rapid expansion of our MERSCOPE® Platform globally, we welcomed Paul Rasmussen as Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan. In addition, the Vizgen family continued to grow with the appointment of two highly accomplished industry leaders: Seth Benson, Chief Financial Officer, and Sara Mackey, Vice President Marketing.
2023 also saw the launch of our first-ever MERSCOPE Platform Grant Program which was open to researchers in Europe and North America. We were thrilled to award grants to the two researchers with the most innovative and impactful proposals in cancer research:
- Aveline Filliol, PhD, Lead Program Manager in the Scott Lowe’s lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK)
- Marek Piprek, MD, PhD candidate, at the Chris Marine Lab at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology in Leuven, Flemish Region, Belgium.
Thank you to all the researchers who participated!
Vizgen Milestones: Product Announcements
On the product front, we launched the MERSCOPE PanNeuro Cell Type Predesigned Panel, which enables cellular and subcellular analysis of neuronal signaling, activity, and connectivity in the mouse brain. This MERFISH gene panel not only provides the ability to identify cell types, but also to probe neuronal signaling, activity, and connectivity at cellular and subcellular levels. This allows researchers to:
- Identify all major cell types including astrocytes, ependymal cells, immune cells, neurons, oligodendrocytes, peripheral glial cells, and vascular cells.
- Resolve neuronal and non-neuronal cell subtypes.
- Explore functional information of cell subtypes.
- Investigate cell interactions across the mouse brain.
We also unveiled the PanCancer Pathways Panel at the 2023 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in April. This MERFISH gene panel provides a key tool for researchers to study tumor behavior at cellular and subcellular levels across different types of cancers. It includes a list of genes targeting canonical signaling pathways of cancer and is constructed using recognized oncology databases including OncoKB®, MutSig, the Cancer Genome Atlas, and Hallmarks of Cancer to ensure inclusion of critical cancer genes. The panel’s features include:
- Characterization of major oncology signaling pathways including RAS/RTK, PI3K, NOTCH, MYC, Cell Cycle, and HIPPO.
- Inclusion of cell type markers to identify healthy and disease states.
- Compatibility across multiple human cancer types.
In December, we launched our third predesigned panel, the MERSCOPE Immuno-Oncology Panel which enables researchers to target the immune response to a variety of human cancers such as Breast, Lung, Liver, Prostate, Colon, Melanoma, Ovarian, and Brain. This panel includes a curated list of 500 genes critical to ongoing research and drug discovery efforts worldwide. The MERSCOPE Immuno-Oncology Panel:
- Identifies major immune cells and subtypes.
- Includes immune checkpoint molecules to enable the characterization of immune-cancer interplay.
Compatible with Tissue preservation methods– Fresh Frozen, Fixed Frozen, Cell Culture, and FFPE.
Vizgen Milestones: MERSCOPE Platform News
In 2023, we were thrilled to install our 100th MERSCOPE instrument in the Single Cell Genomics Core at the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Molecular and Human Genetics led by Dr. Rui Chen.
We also announced a strategic partnership with OMAPiX, a leading provider of spatial omics services and custom data analytics. As part of the agreement, OMAPiX scientists leverage Vizgen’s MERSCOPE Platform technology (along with Resolve Biosciences’ Molecular Cartography™ technology, and Ultivue’s InSituPlex® and UltiStacker® technologies) to provide customers with standardized, reliable, high-quality spatial transcriptomic and proteomic data and unique insights to accelerate drug development and life science research.
To continue equipping researchers with tools that reveal the answers held within in situ single-cell spatial genomics, we also developed the open-source Vizgen Post-processing Tool (VPT) for cell segmentation, allowing for the re-analysis of MERFISH datasets, including manual fine-tuning of cell segmentation parameters and generating new single-cell data.
Lastly, we made several updates to our MERSCOPE® Vizualizer Software for Single-Cell Gene Expression Analysis, a tool that enables interactive visualization of MERFISH spatial genomics data generated by the MERSCOPE Platform. You can also leverage the Web Vizualizer to explore the MERSCOPE Protein Co-detection Data Release which provides a multi-dimensional view of the tumor microenvironment within FFPE human uterine cancer samples.
Vizgen Milestones: Publications and Conferences
The Vizgen team presented data at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (AGBT) 2023 General Meeting in February, demonstrating the use of the MERSCOPE Platform for multiomic analysis in more than 10 FFPE tissue types from mouse and human samples with RNA and protein co-detection on the same sections.
The June issue of Nature Medicine featured a study conducted by Drs. Assaf Magen and Pauline Hamon in the Miriam Merad lab at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in collaboration with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. We are proud to report that the study, titled “Intratumoral dendritic cell–CD4+ T helper cell niches enable CD8+ T cell differentiation following PD-1 blockade in hepatocellular carcinoma” leveraged Vizgen’s MERSCOPE Platform for spatial characterization.
We were thrilled that five of the twenty-one studies featured in the Volume 382 special issue of Science set out to uncover the genetic organization of the adult and developing human and nonhuman primate (NHP) brain used the MERSCOPE Platform. The application of Vizgen’s technology in these studies to create a collective, comprehensive brain cell atlas reaffirms MERSCOPE’s position as the industry’s leading spatial genomics tool.
Lastly, in December, Nature published a collection of studies from NIH BRAIN Cell Census Network (BICCN) research teams that harnessed the power of MERFISH technology to build the most comprehensive cellular map of the adult mouse brain. These studies sought to uncover the diversity, molecular signature, and spatial distribution of distinct types of cells in the whole adult mouse brain. By leveraging MERFISH or MERSCOPE’s exceptional detection efficiency and resolution, researchers were able to identify more than 5,300 cell types across 32 million cells, map their location, and uncover cell-cell communications patterns in the adult mouse brain.
What’s in store for 2024
To start the New Year, our team is excited to announce enhanced MERFISH chemistry to detect even more from degraded RNA samples, including archival FFPE samples this year! Sign up here to receive updates.
We’re looking forward to another year of Vizgen milestones and continued growth for the team. Don’t forget to follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on all things Vizgen.