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Transforming Data Into Discovery: How Spatial Phenotyping Offers Fresh Perspectives on Immunotherapy Outcomes

This blog post was written in partnership with Akoya Biosciences, the Spatial Biology Company®, whose mission is to bring context to the world of biology and human health through spatial phenotyping.

The transition from traditional histology stains to advanced ultrahigh-plex, whole-slide, single-cell spatial imaging signifies a major leap in tissue analysis. This raises a pivotal question for healthcare professionals: When will this technology become a staple in clinical settings, directly benefiting patients?

A traditional, two-channel dye histological stain of a head and neck cancer tumor sample, left, and a spatial visualization of the same sample highlighting five marker channels, from the PhenoCyler-Fusion system.

Insight from an Expert

Dr. Arutha Kulasinghe, a prominent figure in the Clinical-oMx Group at the University of Queensland’s Frazer Institute and the Queensland Spatial Biology Centre, firmly believes that the utilization of these advanced imaging techniques in clinical practice is on the horizon.

Dr. Kulasinghe emphasizes the critical role of imaging data in immunotherapy research, a field traditionally reliant on molecular measurements. He argues that understanding immune cell functions in tissues, as opposed to blood, is crucial.

Advancements in Cancer Research

In a recent webinar titled “Spatial Phenotyping: A Revolutionary Approach to Biomarker Discovery for Cancer Immunotherapy”, Dr. Kulasinghe presented breakthroughs in lung, skin and head & neck cancer research using spatial profiling. He highlighted the utilization of an innovative 100+plex protein panel, demonstrating the integration of diverse datasets on a single slide to better comprehend complex cancer biology.

Skin Cancer Treatment Insights

Dr. Kulasinghe’s team utilized the PhenoCycler®-Fusion with 35 markers to analyze 1.4 million cells from a pre-treatment skin cancer sample. This analysis helped delineate a pathological complete response to immunotherapy, setting the stage for the development of companion diagnostics.

Understanding Partial Response to Immunotherapy with Ultrahigh-plex Spatial Proteomics

Dr. Kulasinghe also discussed the transformation in genomics from bulk analysis to detailed single-cell analysis and whole-slide scanning. He shared findings from 100-plex PhenoCycler-Fusion images of a head and neck cancer patient, illustrating a comprehensive analysis of the tumor microenvironment and metabolic states within the tumor. This research was detailed in the GEN Biotechnology paper, “Mapping the Spatial Proteome of Head and Neck Tumors: Key Immune Mediators and Metabolic Determinants in the Tumor Microenvironment”.

Bridging Gaps in Histology

Dr. Kulasinghe hopes spatial phenotyping will offer more detailed information than traditional H&E staining, providing a holistic view of the tumor microenvironment at a single-cell level. He envisions these techniques identifying biomarkers critical for clinical applications, aiding in the prediction of responses to immunotherapies.

Future Prospects

Dr. Kulasinghe looks forward to the day these technologies move from research to clinical settings, enhancing precision medicine. He advocates for making this knowledge more accessible to pathologists, democratizing spatial data in the field.

Stay Informed

For more in-depth understanding of Dr. Kulasinghe’s work in cancer immunotherapy, we encourage you to view the on-demand webinar “Spatial Phenotyping: A Revolutionary Approach to Biomarker Discovery for Cancer Immunotherapy” and read the publication “Mapping the Spatial Proteome of Head and Neck Tumors”. Also, if you want to read the full original article associated with this blog post, click here.

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