Advancing biomarker discovery and therapeutic development

Specialized CRO offers high-definition tissue imaging services for pharmaceutical and clinical research

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SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. & PORTLAND, Ore.—The beginning of November saw Sirona Dx, a company involved in high-complexity genomics and proteomics services, announce the introduction of imaging mass cytometry services on the Fluidigm Hyperion Imaging System to advance biomarker discovery and therapeutic development.
Specifically, Sirona Dx is a specialized contract research organization (CRO) that provides high-quality clinical research services to pharmaceutical and clinical research clients and focuses on offering early access to advanced technologies. With a goal of providing innovative approaches to expand drug discovery pipelines and bring more effective therapies to market, the company decided to add multiplex tissue imaging to its growing technology portfolio.
As part of this effort, and having noted “impressive imaging mass cytometry results from top pharmaceutical companies and leading academic medical centers,” Sirona Dx engaged Dr. Akil Merchant, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, as a scientific advisor to assess its full potential.
“After a comprehensive evaluation of different tissue imaging technologies, imaging mass cytometry was the clear choice. Imaging mass cytometry will enable our clients to resolve complex cellular networks and signaling pathways within tissue microenvironments with unprecedented definition,” said Dr. Nasry Yassa, CEO of Sirona Dx. “The early response from our pharma partners has been extremely positive. Our clients are expressing significant interest in using imaging mass cytometry to advance their research goals and are pleased to access this new technology through an experienced CRO. Sirona Dx has exciting projects underway and additional requests coming in from top pharmaceutical companies.”
Developed for research use, imaging mass cytometry enables simultaneous imaging of up to 37 protein markers from a single scan of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded or fresh tissue sections at subcellular resolution. Using CyTOF technology, imaging mass cytometry reportedly surpasses the inherent limitations of fluorescence detection by using high-purity metal tags that are separated by mass instead of by wavelength—according to Sirona Dx, with “an established global footprint and 18 scientific publications to date, imaging mass cytometry is rapidly setting a new standard for highly multiplexed tissue imaging.”
“By preserving tissue architecture and cellular morphology information, imaging mass cytometry is ideal for understanding complex tissue microenvironments. It is especially useful for monitoring changes in the immune system in a variety of disease states such as cancer or auto-immunity,” said Merchant. “With easily customizable panel designs using available pre-conjugated antibodies or metal conjugation kits, imaging mass cytometry is a valuable tool for translational and clinical research across a range of disease areas.”
“Sirona Dx is our first imaging mass cytometry CRO partner in the United States,” said Chris Linthwaite, president and CEO of Fluidigm. “Expanding market accessibility is a top priority for unlocking the full potential of imaging mass cytometry. CRO partners play a critical role in providing valuable expertise, accelerating new health insights.”

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