USC-Olympus Innovation Partnership in Multiscale Bioimaging

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The University of Southern California and Olympus have announced their first-ever co-development partnership with the goal of advancing multiscale research into cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment through precision medicine. The USC-Olympus Innovation Partnership in Multiscale Bioimaging demonstrates the clinical utility of new technologies that combine the workflow of a surgical biopsy and primary diagnosis with microscopic cellular and molecular characterization. The resulting personalized medicine and treatment selection will advance cancer research and potentially improve the precision of patient diagnosis and treatment.

The new USC-Olympus Innovation Partnership in Multiscale Bioimaging combines Olympus technology with the expertise of two renowned, university-wide institutes at USC, the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine and the Translational Imaging Center (TIC). The Ellison Institute, named after a $200 million donation by Oracle founder Larry Ellison, aims to change the way cancer is treated and prevented by driving transdisciplinary, patient-centered, and nimble research programs with great promise to shape clinical care. The Ellison Institute’s mission aligns with TIC’s focus on advancing biological imaging for real-world impact, while Olympus provides innovative imaging technologies and healthcare solutions.

The partnership is guided by the scientific leadership of two internationally recognized leaders: trailblazing oncologist and biomedical entrepreneur David Agus, M.D., and world-leading optical and imaging researcher Scott Fraser, Ph.D. Together, with their respective teams, they are pioneering the development of new technologies to enable 3D and 4D imaging of single cells, organoids, and tumor ecosystems.

“Cancer medicine is at a crossroads,” said Dr. Agus. “Molecular research has shown that hundreds of genes and proteins are involved, making it difficult to envision how genetic approaches and standard treatments will cure cancer. Because of this, USC and Olympus have assembled a powerful team of translational researchers, clinicians and technologists to advance diagnostic capabilities toward precision medicine.”

Precision medicine takes into account a patient’s tumor and immune-system profile and integrates this information with data from multiple sources – the patient’s genes, environment and lifestyle. By analyzing patients’ data at the cellular and molecular levels, we begin to understand the tumor’s behavior in its environment. A key aspect of the precision approach is tailoring treatment to the individual patient by performing high-content analysis on patient-derived samples treated with anti-cancer drugs. Patient-derived samples are grown into 3D tumor organoids in multi-well microplates to replicate the physiological conditions of the human immune system, providing significant advantages over traditional 2D cultures or slide samples, especially as drugs are tested on the organoids and measured over time.

The translation from the lab to the clinic is a complex process that can be elusive. USC continues to master “bench to bedside and back to bench” research and is a proven innovator in biologic imaging at multiple scales, especially in colorectal cancer.

“Our partnership with Olympus is accelerating our capacities to develop and advance bioimaging technologies, helping us to create the next-generation tools needed to accelerate translational research and, ultimately, benefiting patients sooner and widening the horizons of multiscale imaging,” said Professor Fraser.

“Olympus is honored to provide the optical tools used to capture the breadth of what’s happening in patients and transforming cancer medicine,” said Julien Sauvagnargues, President of Olympus Corporation of Americas Scientific Solutions Group. “Our deep experience and capabilities in both microscopy and medical technology businesses position us to lead the charge in the fight against cancer. We are excited to partner in the co-development of technology with the hope of translating these innovations to healthier, safer, and more fulfilling lives for people around the world.”

“Life happens in 3D, and the USC-Olympus Innovation Partnership in Multiscale Bioimaging brings Olympus expertise in 3D imaging and our extensive track record in the GI space together with USC’s multidimensional approach to precision medicine,” said Randy Clark, President, Medical Systems Group, Olympus Corporation of the Americas. “We couldn’t be more excited to be working with such visionaries in the fight against cancer.”

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