Päivi Saavalainen, CEO and Founder of SCellex, says that spatial gene sequencing technology enables expression profiling of all genes of cells – at their original location in tissues in single cell resolution. This has impact on biomedical research, as it helps to discover the locations, roles and interactions of different cell types both in healthy tissues and diseases. The technology also allows for the exploration of their key marker genes as potential drug targets.
“Single cell technology is only now targeting the tissue itself. Our technology will provide the best resolution,” she explains.
Get to the core
Thanks to the superb resolution, researchers can focus on a single cell and see how cells react to each other. Discovering, for instance, distinct cancer patterns and subtypes becomes so much easier with a better research tool, Saavalainen believes.
At the first phase, the spatial gene sequencing technology is meant for research use only. “A diagnostic tool may well be in the cards later on.”
Saavalainen is an immunogeneticist at the University of Helsinki who wants to understand the role of immune system in autoimmune diseases and cancers and, ultimately, to improve the diagnostics and treatment options for these diseases. Her Immunomics group works with single cell technologies to increase the resolution in these studies.
Along the way, she has developed the spatial gene sequencing technology based on her invention of which the University relinquished all intellectual property rights to her in 2016.
“I received important mentoring from SPARK Finland and got the courage to launch a company around this technology,” she looks back. SCellex Oy was founded in September 2018.