Stereo-seq, BGI Group’s leading Spatial multi-omics technology, is the GPS technology of life. It can help scientists create a map of life, enabling them to see what type of cells constitute an organ, where each cell is, and what is the spatial relationship between different cells.
The average human body is made up of 37.2 trillion cells. Understanding how these cells are organized is key to understanding human biology and disease. But with so many in our body, it has been virtually impossible to put together a complete and precise picture. That has changed with the development of SpatialTemporal Omics (STOmics), and in particular BGI’s ground-breaking Stereo-seq spatial multi-omics technology.
Before Stereo-seq, studying the inner workings of the human body was like trying to navigate a new city without a map – you can see what’s immediately in front of you, but you can’t easily see how all the streets fit together or how they have changed over time.
Stereo-seq combines a number of scientific advances and combines DNA nanoball (DNB)-patterned arrays and in situ RNA capture to create spatial enhanced resolution omics sequencing. The biggest Stereo-seq sequencing chip is 13cm × 13cm, which is 500 times bigger than other spatiotemporal omics sequencing chips so that a complete section of tissue can be sequenced. And it has a more than 100 billion pixel resolution, allowing every biological process to be presented at a resolution that has never been seen before.
With these advances scientists can map a full catalog of cell types and cell states, enabling them to examine not just individual cells, but the relationship between all the cells in the body. What’s more, they can even map the cells over time, seeing how they grow and change, organ by organ, and creating physiology atlases.
Since major Stereo-seq research papers were published by Cell Press in May 2022, scientific attention to the technology has spread globally. Some of the major initiatives for Stereo-seq include:
Mapping a full catalog of cell types and cell states in their complete spatial context for every organ in the body to create physiology atlases.
Studying the lifetimes of organisms from development from a single cell, growing, maturing and dying will help uncover the biomolecular causality in development atlases and aging atlases.
Gaining a deeper understanding of diseases from cancer to inflammation to degenerative diseases with disease atlases leading to better treatment and prevention.
Mapping biologically diverse organisms to provide unprecedented insights for studying the accuracy of phylogenetic trees.
Scientific knowledge is expanding rapidly as examples from brain science and cancer detection illustrate.
In brain science, a multi-institute research team led by BGI-Research used Stereo-seq to reveal how an axolotl salamander’s brain injury can heal itself and constructed the world’s first spatiotemporal cellular atlas of the axolotl brain development and regeneration. With the axolotl as a model organism, scientists can now go on to reveal new pathways for regenerative medicine in other mammalian nervous systems.
In cancer detection, previously detection relied on low-resolution techniques such as imaging technology to see the morphological characteristics of tumors and immunohistochemical technology to detect the expression of only a few genes at a time.
Stereo-seq can detect over 25,000 genes at the same time, and comprehensively show scientists what has changed in all genes with unprecedented precision. This will enable scientists to accurately classify cancers by gene expression, cell type and cellular microenvironment, and define each cancer subtype, enabling accurate detection.
Genomics has come a long way in helping us understand the world around us and Stereo-seq promises to bring the next revolution. On the basis of high-precision spatiotemporal maps, it is expected that life will become clearer than ever before, and scientists will be able to unlock mysteries such as Who are we? Where are we from? Where will we go? And, how do aging and disease occur?