New research outlined in a paper published in the journal Science describes the results of a collaboration between Kioxia Corporation and MIT’s Synthetic Neurobiology group, led by Edward Boyden. The research, involving both MIT and Harvard scientists, was conducted while members of Kioxia and Boyden’s group were working together at the MIT Media Lab, and presents a novel way to locate and sequence RNA within tissue samples—potentially opening avenues for researchers to learn more about gene expression in cells.
The beginnings of this work occurred as early as 2014, when a team led by George Church at Harvard Medical School developed an RNA sequencing technique known as FISSEQ (fluorescent in situ sequencing); tangentially, the Boyden lab had innovated the expansion microscopy technique in 2015, and both Church and Boyden’s groups were looking for a way to combine the two methods and produce higher resolution in situ sequencing results using tissue expansion. The new procedure born from this joint effort is called expansion sequencing, or ExSeq.
Kioxia, a Media Lab member company, also began to collaborate with Boyden’s lab in 2015, and initially focused on projects relating to microscopy image preprocessing. However, while stationed in Cambridge, MA, visiting scientist Dr. Yosuke Bando (Bandy) saw an opportunity for Kioxia's computer memory technology to contribute towards this life science research in a new way: data storage had become a central issue in the expansion sequencing project, as Synthetic Neurobiology researchers estimated that petabytes of data would have to be stored. The researchers needed to scale up their existing technology—which processed data at a very slow rate—to analyze a growing volume of sample data.