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In November 2022, the MRC WIMM Single Cell Facility became the first laboratory in the UK to introduce Vizgen’s MERSCOPE® Platform, providing researchers from academia and industry with access to cutting-edge spatial transcriptomics technology.

On Thursday 9th November, the facility commemorated the anniversary of this platform becoming available at the WIMM by hosting a “MERSCOPE® User’s Day” in collaboration with Vizgen. Platform users, including industrial partners, had the opportunity to share their research progress and outcomes.

Single cell research is a powerful approach to studying biological systems and how they are perturbed in disease or during development. However, many of the single cell techniques available to date rely on the analysis of single cells in suspension, which leaves a gap in understanding how cells interact within their usual environments.

The MERSCOPE® Platform uses a Multiplexed Error-Robust Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (MERFISH) approach to interrogate transcripts from hundreds of different genes across any biological tissue down to the single cell level. MERSCOPE® allows users to co-localize transcripts with up to five different proteins on the same sections and is being used to complement the set of platforms already available at the MRC WIMM Single Cell Facility for single cell multiomics solutions. 

Since the platform was first introduced, the Single Cell Facility has worked alongside Vizgen to develop tissue-specific and condition-related workflows for over eleven different tissues, including lung, brain, skin, colon, and bone marrow across several different species of animals and plants. The facility has been working hard to raise the quality of the workflows available, supporting research on a national and international level.

A collection of photos showing a group of people attending an event in a conference room.


Professor Adam Mead said: “One of the key aims of the Oxford CRUK Cancer Centre is to generate integrated multi-parametric datasets including imaging (spatial transcriptomics), scRNA-seq and mutation profiling.  Validating disease-driving genes and cell populations through spatial transcriptomics in mouse models and using our extensive biobank of myelofibrosis patient samples is the crucial next step in order to prioritise candidate genes for further functional validation.”

Professor Alison Simmons said: "The Simmons lab uses MERSCOPE® in a variety of applications to define inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pathogenesis. The ability to design bespoke marker panels given by the MERSCOPE® technology will allow the lab to define pathological microdomains and intercellular signalling that drive fistulae and fibrosis in IBD with a view to creating representative model systems with which to test novel therapeutic modalities. The lab will also use MERSCOPE® to explore functional genetic consequences of mutations linked to IBD or other gastrointestinal pathologies on intercellular signalling occurring within cells harbouring these mutations and with bystander cells, defining the niche contribution to pathology in gastrointestinal diseases.