Akoya Biosciences and VIB Partner to Explore Multiplexed Spatial...

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Akoya Biosciences and VIB Partner to Explore Multiplexed Spatial Analysis of Single Cells Using the CODEX™ Technology Platform

By Pharma Tech Outlook | Tuesday, June 18, 2019

MENLO PARK, Calif: Akoya Biosciences, a private biotech start-up, announced that VIB, a leading life sciences institute in Belgium, will be one of its first partners for exploring the CODEX™ (CO-Detection by indexing) technology in Europe.

The CODEX™ technology originates from Dr. Garry Nolan's lab at Stanford University and is the only technology available to provide spatial and quantitative analysis of up to 50 biomarkers of individual cells in complex tissues. This technology will accelerate VIB's ongoing effort in single cell immunology, neurology and oncology research by unraveling the spatial interactions of single cells for the very first time using a multiplex imaging tool.

Characterizing the interaction of single cells and their corresponding microenvironments is of major interest to VIB and is also one of the key goals of the newly established Single Cell Accelerator (SCA) program at the institute. This program aims to expand VIB's expertise in single cell research by optimizing, validating and developing novel and recently commercialized platforms within VIB's Technology Innovation Lab. The CODEX™ is the first imaging platform to enter the SCA and Brian McKelligon, CEO of Akoya Biosciences, further complements, "VIB is one of the leading research institutes in single cell research, and as such, we are thrilled and honored to partner with them in their SCA program by bringing the CODEX™ Technology to Europe."

The CODEX™ platform transforms traditional fluorescent microscopes into powerful high-dimensional tissue imaging stations that can analyze the tissue architecture and heterogeneity through multiplex staining. Dr. Saskia Lippens, Manager at the VIB Bioimaging Core confirms, "This platform is clearly the next step and the long-sought missing link in single cell research and imaging." Prof. Martin Guilliams, group leader at VIB – UGent Center for Inflammation Research and member of the Human Cell Atlas Initiative agrees and further adds, "There is no 'atlas' without a map, thus the ability to accurately map distinct subsets of single cells in tissues such as the liver will certainly drive the Human Cell Atlas forward!" The possibility to detect up to 50 protein markers in a single tissue section opens new research avenues. Prof. Diether Lambrechts, group leader and director of VIB – KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology expects that this platform will continue to advance single cell research in cancer biology and adds, "The complexity of the tumor microenvironment has so far been underrepresented due to the lack of adequate research tools, with the help of the CODEX™ platform we aim to further dissect and unravel the role of the microenvironment in tumor progression and development." Prof. Adrian Liston, group leader at VIB – KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease research, enthusiastically agrees: "The CODEX™ is a unique multiplex imaging platform and we expect this technology to bolster our understanding in immune diseases at a level never achieved before."

The collaboration between VIB and Akoya Biosciences began last year when Dr. Wai Long Tam, who is part of the Technology Innovation Lab at the institute, visited the company in Menlo Park for on-site training. He notes that "The integration and rollout of this platform have been a great success; multiple groups are now plugging in and can't wait to integrate this technology in their research pipelines." Dr. Halina Novak, Technology and Innovation Manager at VIB, confirms and feels privileged to have the CODEX™ installed at the institute. She comments, "Despite the physical distance between VIB and Akoya Biosciences, the interaction and support has so far been exceptional, and I am looking forward to expand this collaboration. We expect the CODEX™ platform to bring novel insights into both normal biological or diseases processes, with the aim to ultimately decipher novel biological questions."



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