Owkin invests $50M in spatial omics project that will 'revolutionize cancer research'

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags spatial omics cancer research tumor Disease Cancer Oncology Research Immune system Patient centricity

Artificial intelligence (AI) biotech company, Owkin, has invested $50million in a project that will use spatial omics, a set of cutting-edge technologies that offer unprecedented information on the structure of tumors.

Owkin will be joined by Nanostring Technologies and a number of world-leading cancer research institutions to ‘revolutionize cancer research’.

University of Pittsburgh, Gustave Roussy, Lausanne University Hospital, Uniklinikum Erlangen/Friedrich-Alexander- Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin joined the biotech companies to launch MOSAIC (Multi Omic Spatial Atlas in Cancer) at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting.

Spatial omics allows researchers to examine tumors at a near single-cell resolution, while revealing the location and molecular activity of tumor and immune cells. It provides a detailed map of molecular interactions, allowing scientists to decipher key relationships between a tumor and its environment.

Thomas Clozel, co-founder, and CEO of Owkin, said: “The convergence of spatial omics, multimodal patient data, and AI will power the next revolution in oncology research, unlocking the next wave of breakthrough treatments for patients. MOSAIC will help us, and our partners make unprecedented breakthroughs in the fight against cancer.”

By generating and analyzing unprecedented amounts of spatial omics data in combination with multimodal patient data and artificial intelligence, MOSAIC aims to unlock the next wave of treatments for some of the most difficult-to-treat cancers.

Brad Gray, president and CEO of NanoString, said: “This project holds potential to transform our understanding of cancer biology and spark the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics. It is a unique collaboration, bringing together NanoString’s powerful spatial biology platforms, the highest quality clinically annotated cancer samples from top cancer research centers, and Owkin’s extraordinary A.I. technology and analytics.”

The first initiative of its kind using spatial omics technology, MOSAIC holds the potential to open a new field in oncology treatment research. It will use 7,000 tumor samples from patients, making it more than 100 times larger than any existing spatial omics datasets. Owkin and the MOSAIC partners will mine this resource for immune-oncology disease subtypes in pursuit of biomarkers and novel therapies.

Robert Ferris is associate vice chancellor for Cancer Research and Hillman Professor of Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

He said: “The University of Pittsburgh is excited to be a part of the MOSAIC consortia, which will leverage our UPMC Hillman Cancer Center spatial-omic expertise in understanding cancer cells in their environment. We are enthusiastic to work with other universities and industry partners to uncover actionable insights to detect, treat, and prevent cancer.”

Spatially resolved molecular profiling or spatial omics is an advanced group of technologies for quantifying and localizing molecular expression that offers scientists an unparalleled view of tumor structures at near single-cell resolution, revealing interactions between tumor and non-tumor cells.

By measuring a molecule's expression and mapping it back to its location within the tumor sample, spatial omics allows researchers to 'zoom in' on tumor heterogeneity, cell-cell communication, and tumor-immune system interactions. This innovative approach is set to catalyze unprecedented scientific breakthroughs and transform our fundamental understanding of disease mechanisms.

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