The tumor microenvironment is undeniably complex. Specialized immune cells interact directly and indirectly with tumor cells in a constantly evolving relationship that influences the biology of the tumor. Spatial context is essential to uncovering the mysteries of cell behavior and interactions. Just as individuals may behave differently in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, individual cells adopt different roles depending on their surroundings, or neighborhoods.
A pioneering study published in Cell by Dr. Garry Nolan’s lab at Stanford University introduced a novel analysis framework which can be used to study tissue biology at two levels – the distinct regions of the tissue and the cell types present in these regions.
Using the CODEX® system, Schürch et al. generated high-dimensional spatial maps of colorectal cancer (CRC) tissue and identified distinct cell types and “cellular neighborhoods” to understand how interactions between cells and neighborhoods can influence CRC patient outcomes. Keep reading to learn more about their findings and this novel framework for spatial analysis.