A spatial atlas to enable discovery of novel treatments for cancer patients
We spoke with Prof Olivier Elemento, Director of the Englander Institute of Precision Medicine and member of Owkin’s scientific advisory board, about the impact of building MOSAIC, the world’s largest spatial omics atlas in cancer.
How does MOSAIC leverage spatial omics technologies?
MOSAIC is an attempt at building a very detailed atlas of cancer tissue at cellular resolution. It’s using multi omics characterization of tissue in different ways - from spatial omics to RNA-Seq and other modalities - to be able to build this beautiful, detailed map of cancer and use it as a way to enable target discovery. Spatial omics complements other technologies in multiple ways. One, it preserves the architecture of the tissue, and two, it’s near single-cell resolution, so we can essentially watch the different cells as they coexist within a tissue and they interact with each other.
What are the anticipated breakthroughs from MOSAIC?
The breakthroughs that we anticipate coming out of MOSAIC will be driven by a new understanding of cancer at near single-cell resolution. There is a tremendous amount of potential for finding novel targets for immunotherapies, finding novel ways to treat cancer by understanding what else to target - what are the non-tumor cells that could potentially be targeted to eventually kill the tumor cells?
Why is Owkin well positioned to launch such an initiative?
Machine learning is really essential to the process of analysing spatial omics and multimodal data. Owkin is very well positioned to lead this effort because it has the ability to analyze datasets of this scale. We’re talking about extremely large and complex datasets, with multiple modalities across thousands of patients. You need to have very robust AI/ML capabilities to be able to integrate these data and use them as a way to discover new insights.
What is unique about the MOSAIC initiative?
MOSAIC is a gigantic effort that is combining samples and technologies from multiple institutions, multiple hospitals. And these centers are joining forces with Owkin in order to create this gigantic map of tissue across different types of cancers. An effort like MOSAIC has not been done before. The scale of the effort is very large, and this is very exciting because the maps that are going to be built have the potential to give rise to so many clues about cancer, and so many novel targets to enable discovery of novel treatments for cancer patients.