Scientist holding a DNA sample with the results on a computer screen in a laboratory
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The new Multi Omic Spatial Atlas in Cancer (MOSAIC) project will search for new biomarkers and therapeutics by mining 7,000 patient tumor samples, which the team estimates is more than 100 times larger than any other spatial genomics datasets so far. The collaboration involves several leading cancer research institutes along with AI biotech pioneer Owkin and spatial omics specialists NanoString. Owkin is investing $50 million in the project.

“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,” said Thomas Clozel, Co-founder, and CEO of Owkin.

The cancer research institutions involved include: University of Pittsburgh, Gustave Roussy, Lausanne University Hospital, Uniklinikum Erlangen/Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The project’s launch was announced yesterday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting.

“The comprehensive characterization of large patient cohorts of cancers with poor prognosis and high medical need for new therapies using spatial omics will provide unprecedented knowledge about tumors and their microenvironment ,” said Prof. Arndt Hartmann, Head of the Institute of Pathology of Uniklinikum Erlangen.

Spatial omics comprises an advanced group of technologies that can analyze tumors at a near single-cell resolution, revealing the location and molecular activity of tumor,  immune, and other cells in the microenvironment. By measuring a molecule’s expression and mapping it back to its location within the tumor sample, spatial omics allows researchers to see what effects tumor heterogeneity, cell-cell communication, and tumor-immune system interactions. 

MOSAIC will analyze spatial omics data in combination with multimodal patient data and use artificial intelligence (AI).

“It is an unprecedented 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 AI technology and analytics,” said Robert Ferris, MD, PhD, 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.

“… we are entering a new dimension for the understanding of the mechanism and interaction of tumor cells and their micro-environment,” said Professor Mauro Oddo, Director of Innovation and Clinical Research at the Lausanne University Hospital.

MOSAIC claims its scale significantly surpasses existing spatial omics studies. Presently, they say, most studies involving these data modalities are constrained by sample sizes, typically fewer than 50. MOSAIC, they say, will analyze data from 7,000 patients, enabling scientists to conduct research on data cohorts that are 100 times larger than currently possible.

The project is led by AI biotech company Owkin, while NanoString is providing technologies for biomarker discovery and translational research, including NanoString’s GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiler and CosMx Spatial Molecular Imager platforms. Academic research partners will provide their expertise to manage the scientific conduct of the study and conduct research on the MOSAIC data.

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