Griffith and Nanostring launch Centre of Excellence in spatial biology

Griffith University will establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in spatial biology in collaboration with Nanostring Technologies, a publicly held provider of life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostic products.

Dr Nic West

Dr Nicholas West, from the Mucosal Immunology Research Group at Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, said the CoE was the first of its type in Australia and would provide the scientific community in the Asia Pacific region with the latest in innovative immune profiling techniques.

“The Griffith University Centre of Excellence in Spatial Biology will transform our capability to undertake innovative and state-of-the-art immunophenotyping across a number of diseases,” he said.

“The Griffith University Centre of Excellence in Spatial Biology will transform our capability to undertake innovative and state-of-the-art immunophenotyping across a number of diseases”

“With a focus on mucosal and tissue immunology, we will be able to provide innovative research in oncology, atopic and chronic inflammatory diseases and in data science and bioinformatics.”

“For instance, this offers the potential for great advances in treatment of people with cancer, where tailoring treatment requires an understanding of the tumour biology, that is, the cells driving cancer growth.”

Nanostring recently launched the GeoMx™ Digital Spatial Profiler (DSP). Dr West said spatial biology was the next frontier.

“Spatial biology allows for the comprehensive assessment and characterisation of immune cells and molecules within their morphological context.”

“Our ability to understand which patients will respond to different treatments has been limited by our ability to characterise the cells and molecules within the tissue environment.

“GeoMx Spatial Profiling allows us to assess the cells and molecules in the tumour for a targeted understanding of the biology of the disease.

“Recently this has led to new trials to determine whether key immune cells are predictive of response to immunotherapy in patients with melanoma.

“This cutting-edge technology allows measuring and mapping of the spatial distribution of proteins and RNA in a tissue sample, where existing methods, which rely on the extraction of RNA or isolation of cells, have resulted in the loss of spatial information in diseased tissue.

“It allows us to gain insight into the causes of disease, progression, treatment and resolution.”

Deputy Vice Chancellor Research, Professor Mario Pinto said Griffith researchers were highly regarded as being at the forefront of discovery.

“As a research-intensive institution, Griffith is investigating and opening doors to discovery and innovations which can help improve people’s lives.

“Having access to cutting edge technology ensures a front row seat to the future.

“Since 2018, the University, through its leading health and medical research institute, the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, has partnered with NanoString to provide researchers and clinicians, along with their commercial partners, the capability and expertise to undertake state-of-the-art genomics, immunology and data science.

“The CoE is shaping up to be the core facility of choice for this technology in the wider Asian region so there is a lot of interest in our emerging capabilities.

“Given Australia and our local environment is now almost COVID free, we are able to undertake all types of basic and clinical research.”

Dr West said the GeoMx™ Digital Spatial Profiler (DSP) enabled high throughput multiplex spatial profiling of both RNA and protein targets in a variety of sample types, including FFPE tissue sections for researcher both in translational science and clinical settings.

Since 2019, there have been more than 28 peer-reviewed research articles using GeoMx DSP published in high impact journals including Nature, Cell and Nature Medicine.

Access to this technology is considered essential for researchers in the field of immune-oncology, neuroscience and developmental biology where spatial information is key to the next breakthrough.

“This partnership means we will be able to bring the latest NanoString research and development opportunities to research in the Australian community, offering efficient, comprehensive and tailored services to generate high impact research data,” Dr West said.

The Centre of Excellence at Griffith University will serve as a portal for researchers across Asia Pacific to undertake research and development activities.

It will also offer a stage for researchers in the spatial biology community to develop multi-centre collaborations to drive the next transformation in translational science.

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