Grants awarded to researchers with most innovative and impactful proposals in cancer research
Aveline Filliol of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Marek Piprek of VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology to receive a full Vizgen® Lab Services MERFISH study generated on the MERSCOPE Platform
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Vizgen, the life science company dedicated to improving human health by visualizing single-cell spatial genomics information, today announced the winners of its first ever MERSCOPE® Platform Grant Program. Open to researchers in Europe and North America, the grants were awarded to the researchers with the most innovative and impactful proposals in cancer research.
The two grant winners are Aveline Filliol, PhD, Lead Program Manager in the Scott Lowe’s lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), and Marek Piprek, MD, PhD candidate, at the Chris Marine Lab at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology in Leuven, Flemish Region, Belgium.
“Aveline and Marek are empowering innovative and impactful research, completely exemplifying the reasons why we founded our grant program. We couldn’t be more thrilled to name them as our first grant recipients,” said Terry Lo, President and CEO of Vizgen. “We look forward to seeing how each will leverage our panel to drive their impactful oncology research and further exemplify the potential applications of spatial genomics.”
Supported by the belief that a better understanding of how tumors respond initially to treatment will help predict patient outcomes, Dr. Filliol and her team at MSK including Thoracic Surgeon Matthew Bolt, MD, and Senior Research Scientist Maria Skamagki, PhD, are obtaining the valuable yet challenging pre-and post-treatment samples required to determine therapy-specific responses of cancer cells. With the MERSCOPE Grant, Dr. Filliol plans to apply MERSCOPE to matched samples from patients to validate the presence of tumor cells displaying senescent features, identify where they are localized in the tumor and unravel the neighborhood of senescent tumor cells. Her hope is that this work will help researchers understand the influence that tumor ecosystem adaptation and evolution have on treatment outcomes.
Dr. Piprek and team aim to understand the heterogeneity of melanoma metastasis in different organs and have been leveraging single-cell transcriptomics to identify a unique cluster of cells in a distant organ of a melanoma mouse model. He and his team are looking to further validate this finding with spatial resolution and have gathered a unique collection of human formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) samples of melanoma metastasis in the lung and brain, as well as other less common metastatic sites. Dr. Piprek plans to utilize MERSCOPE to compare the tumors across different organs, track the evolution of the diseases, validate the biological role of different melanoma populations and examine the role of the tumor microenvironment in shaping melanoma metastasis.
“I am grateful to be one of two recipients of the MERSCOPE Grant and am excited that Vizgen finds my research meaningful,” said Dr. Piprek. “With this opportunity, we can validate our findings in unexplored spatial dimensions by using a carefully pre-designed PanCancer Panel. Projecting our single-cell RNA sequencing data into space will broaden our knowledge and understanding of cell state diversity and cell-cell communications between cancer cell states and the tumor microenvironment, unraveling potential new therapeutic targets in melanoma metastasis.”
Vizgen is dedicated to pioneering the next generation of genomics, providing tools that demonstrate the possibilities of in situ single-cell spatial genomics, setting the standard for the spatial genomics field. These tools are enabling researchers to gain new insight into the biological systems that govern human health and disease with spatial context. The company’s MERSCOPE® Platform enables massively multiplexed, genome-scale nucleic acid imaging with high accuracy and unrivaled detection efficiency at subcellular resolution. MERSCOPE provides transformative insight into a wide range of tissue-scale basic research and translational medicine in oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious disease, developmental biology, cell and gene therapy, and is an essential tool for accelerating drug discovery and development. For more information, go to www.vizgen.com. Connect on social media Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.