Transcriptional Spatial Profiling of Cancer Tissues in the Era of Immunotherapy: The Potential and Promise
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117597, Singapore
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore 169856, Singapore
Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore 169857, Singapore
Department of Anatomical Pathology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore 169856, Singapore
Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore 138648, Singapore
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 August 2020 / Revised: 5 September 2020 / Accepted: 6 September 2020 / Published: 9 September 2020
In recent years, immunotherapy has emerged as a pillar in the fight against cancer. However, the heterogeneity within the tumor microenvironment poses challenges to the efficacy of immunotherapy treatment strategies and may contribute to treatment resistance, progression and relapse. Hence, researchers have used transcriptional spatial profiling techniques to uncover the complex cancer immune profile while retaining critical spatial information of different cell types. This would help identify the source of tumor heterogeneity and uncover pathogenic mechanisms, potential drug targets and novel biomarkers. In this review, we discuss various approaches for transcriptional spatial profiling of cancer tissues such as in situ hybridization, digital spatial profiling and an emerging technology known as Visium Spatial Gene Expression Solution. We highlight the strengths and limitations of the different technologies and the potential and promise they hold in the advancement of cancer immunotherapy.