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Spatial biology simplified: Scientific stories and technology updates from AACR 2023

Missed our latest spatial biology technology updates at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2023 meeting – including one that could shave weeks or even months off your experiments?

Want to relive the amazing scientific stories shared at the event?

In this post, we’ll recap some of our favorite moments from AACR.

Akoya Biosciences at AACR 2023

Table of contents

  • Technology updates: New software partnership and antibody modules
  • Multiplex biomarker testing in a CLIA-lab at institutional scale
  • Ultra-high plex spatial biology case studies: Breast cancer and lung cancer research
  • Catching up with our first-ever grant recipient about interdisciplinary studies on oral cancers

Technology updates: New software partnership and antibody modules

In April we announced the shipment of our 1000th instrument, a milestone that underscores the growing consensus among scientists that context matters in biology. As the adoption of our technologies accelerates, we recognize now more than ever the need to simplify spatial biology workflows for our users.

That’s why, during our Spotlight Theater session, we were thrilled to announce a new partnership with Enable Medicine. The Enable software platform offers streamlined analysis and management of spatial biology data in the cloud – helping researchers go from sample to data to insights more quickly and easily. The platform has been optimized for PhenoCycler-Fusion data using thousands of tissue sample runs and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of researchers thanks to this new partnership.

In addition, we also shared some novel applications of our PhenoCycler antibodies where – using certain antibodies together in modules – scientists can readily answer key biological questions around immune profiling, immune activation, and more. That means you can spend less time designing, validating, and optimizing custom panels for your studies and potentially shave weeks or even months off your experiments.

Multiplex biomarker testing in a CLIA-lab at institutional scale

Have you ever asked yourself:

  • What is the benefit of testing with more than one antibody on a single tissue section (multiplex testing)
  • Will I get more biologically relevant information by testing with 3, 4, or more different antibodies?
  • Can a novel biomarker testing program be implemented in a CLIA-lab at institutional scale?

At AACR, we spoke to James Lindsay, PhD (@jim_bo_) from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute about the latest updates from the groundbreaking ImmunoPROFILE study. As part of this study, Dr. Lindsay and his colleagues developed a new multiplex biomarker test – leveraging the high throughput capabilities of the PhenoImager HT platform – that is helping shed light on these questions and more.

As part of this prospective cohort study, the test is being used to explore the relationship between immune phenotypes (using CD8, PD-1, PD-L1, and FOXP3 antibodies) and response to immunotherapy across 15+ cancer types. The preliminary results are eye-opening and, with more than 2,000 patient cases analyzed to date, this is an excellent demonstration of the successful implementation of a novel biomarker test in translational research at scale!

You can watch Dr. Lindsay share more about the ImmunoPROFILE study and preliminary results here.

Ultra-high plex spatial biology case studies: Breast cancer and lung cancer research

One of the most gratifying things about having a thousand instruments in the hands of scientists worldwide is the many inspiring stories we get to hear.

At our Spotlight Theater session this year, we had the pleasure of highlighting two such stories from guest speakers Jasmine Plummer, PhD of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Rajkumar Savai, PhD of the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research who are pioneering critical applications of the technology in cancer research.

Multiplex and ultra-high plex studies involve exploring not one but up to dozens of proteins on a single tissue section. Viewing this data at the single-cell level, many scientists are starting to characterize distinct spatial patterns or “cellular neighborhoods” (how different types of cells are organized across a tissue sample and how the presence of nearby cellular neighbors influences a cell’s behavior) that may help reveal previously unseen aspects of tumor biology and someday provide actionable insights to fuel translational research.

Dr. Plummer (@DrJasPlummer) shared a breast cancer case study where, using a 66-plex antibody panel, her team created a spatial atlas of triple negative breast cancer to help address a severe need to understand disparities of disease incidence and outcomes among women of African ancestry.

You can watch Dr. Plummer’s entire 15-minute presentation here.

Dr. Savai (@r_savai) shared a lung cancer case study where his team used a 44-plex antibody panel for spatial phenotyping of two cohorts of lung cancer patients, including KRAS/EGFR mutant negative and mutant positive samples. He will share the currently unpublished results of his study at SITC later this year.

Catching up with our first-ever grant recipient about interdisciplinary studies on oral cancers

Last but not least we were thrilled to catch up with Inês Sequeira, MSc, AFHEA, PhD (@InesSequeira7) from Queen Mary University of London, who was our first-ever spatial biology grant recipient!

If you’re a genomic scientist and have ever wondered about how findings from your sequencing studies might be connected to protein patterns of cellular organization and immune profiles, then this research will particularly resonate with you.

Dr. Sequeira presented a poster at AACR highlighting how she is working to elucidate the heterogeneity of oral cancers using spatial data from a 40+ antibody panel combined with genomic data.

We can’t wait to see what further discoveries Dr. Sequeira makes and the impact her research has in informing the development of better treatment options.

You can watch Dr. Sequeira’s full 3-minute poster presentation here.

P.S. If you’re new to spatial biology and would like to generate some spatial data using your own tissue samples, keep an eye out for our next grant opportunity which will begin accepting abstracts in June. 

All of our presentation recordings and scientific posters from AACR 2023 are available now for on-demand viewing. Also, be sure to keep an eye on our events page to see when you can catch us next.

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