Research & development - Leuven | More than two weeks ago
Current cancer therapies often fail because the genetic and cellular architecture of tumors is largely unique within each patient, requiring personalized diagnostics and treatments that are unavailable today. Pathological assessment of cancerous tissue sections is particularly challenging, making the interpretation of resulting data and the corresponding diagnostic decision to some extent subjective. Recent advances in spatial transcriptomics have however made it possible to combine morphological data with full transcription profiles, resulting in an objective method to understand the behavior of cancer cells in their distinctive micro-environment. Pushing the spatial resolution of transcriptomics down to subcellular level and increasing the analytical sensitivity will undoubtedly generate more accurate, specific and quantitative pathological data, enabling detailed patient stratification, prognosis and therapy. Such method will in addition open up other biomedical and biological applications to study cellular architectures of organs, as well as how cells interact and communicate to establish functional cell niches within organs in health, and how these processes are perturbed in disease, in general.
In this postdoc project, we want to leverage both CMOS scaling and the recent boost in nucleic acid synthesis technologies. Ultra-high-density electrode arrays with feature sizes well below 2 µm can be readily fabricated using standard CMOS processes. This allows to develop novel methods to synthesize DNA sequences on each miniaturized electrode on demand. We use electrochemically triggered DNA synthesis, with the emphasis of maintaining lateral resolution and accurate synthesis quality control to ensure suitable sequence lengths. The aim of the project is to generate information on the tissue-specific expression of genes at a resolution that was unattainable before. This will support many high-end biological applications and will ultimately allow digitizing pathology to revolutionize the use of tissue sections for in-vitro diagnostics.
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