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TGen, Deepcell Partner to Study Melanoma Single-Cell Morphology, Genomics

NEW YORK – The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and Menlo Park-based Deepcell said Tuesday that they have partnered to conduct research using Deepcell's artificial intelligence-powered imaging platform to analyze individual live cells in real time.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the partnership involves TGen's scientific technology assessment research team (START) joining the Deepcell technology access program. START is a new arm of the institute, tasked with scouting and onboarding new technologies that can then be handed off to TGen and the greater City of Hope enterprise.

According to the companies, their first joint effort will be a pilot study in melanoma, a disease for which TGen has collected decades of genomic research and cell-based models.

Deepcell's platform uses cell imaging and AI to subtype and quantify cells based on their morphology, such that molecular and other data can then be studied alongside these phenotypic patterns. Because the technology keeps cells intact, it can pair with a variety of downstream analyses, including TGen's established single-cell sequencing technology.

In a statement, Jeffrey Trent, TGen's president and research director, said that Deepcell's technology "without question, opens new avenues for us to explore."

START head Stephanie Pond added that the platform will help researchers "zero in on the most critical parts of a cell to gain a deeper understanding of what is driving disease."

"Understanding a complete picture of the tumor microenvironment should provide clues about how best to treat each patient, focusing especially on what type of immune cells might be present and coexisting with cancerous cells," she said.

Among Deepcell's growing roster of collaborations is another melanoma partnership with University of Zurich, Switzerland, which was announced last fall. Other partners include UCLA and Stanford University.