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NanoString Technologies, Weill Cornell Medicine Collaborate on Spatial Atlas of Human Tissues

NEW YORK – NanoString Technologies said on Thursday that it has launched an initiative to create multiomic spatial maps of healthy human tissues from multiple organs in collaboration with Weill Cornell Medicine.

The Spatial Atlas of Human Anatomy (SAHA) will analyze samples of 30 organs from a healthy and diverse population of adults. Weill Cornell's Chris Mason, Robert Schwartz, and Shauna Houlihan will lead the project. Over three years, they will attempt to map 250 million cells using both of NanoString's spatial transcriptomics platforms: the GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiler and the CosMx Spatial Molecular Imager.

An undisclosed amount of funding will be provided by Weill Cornell, the Gastro-Intestinal Research Foundation, and WorldQuant Foundation, Mason said. NanoString will provide in-kind reagent support. Other financial terms of the collaboration were not disclosed. Mason is a paid consultant to NanoString and serves on the firm's scientific advisory board.

In Thursday morning trading on the Nasdaq, shares of NanoString rose 5 percent to $11.93 and were up 12 percent over the last two days. 

"The goal is for SAHA to be a foundational database that can serve as a benchmark reference for spatial precision medicine. Comparing spatial datasets of various organs from multiple ethnicities can capture the variability in samples that researchers do not currently understand," Mason, professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine, said in a statement. "The research team plans to show how spatial organ atlasing at multiple scales can be used for uncovering unique insights into organ development, health, and cancer."

NanoString's GeoMx platform offers whole-transcriptome spatial analysis, but only at the resolution to discern histological features. For SAHA, researchers will analyze tissue features in the range of 50 µm to 2 mm. CosMx offers multiplexing of about 1,000 genes and 64 proteins but can reach single-cell resolution, or about 50 nm. 

The collaboration will also investigate how NanoString’s spatial platforms can be used together, the firm said.

The samples used in the study will capture variability across sexes and will include individuals with European, African, Latin American, East Asian, and South Asian ancestry. The researchers will make their data available to the scientific community through the SAHA data portal, including raw and processed data.

Mason will be presenting more about the study next week at the Advances in Genome Biology and Technology annual meeting.