HERAN Partners invests in spatial multi-omics player Aspects Analytics

Sep 15, 2022 | Katleen Vandersmissen

HERAN Partners facilitates international rollout of revolutionary data platform Aspect Analytics

“The potential? Personalized cancer diagnoses for patients”          

Recently, Aspect Analytics joined our investment portfolio. The start-up is a pioneer in spatial multi-omics analysis, one of the most revolutionary medical technologies of our time. Managing Partner Katleen Vandersmissen looks ahead at the vast array of possibilities,together with founders Marc Claesen and Nico Verbeeck. “Our ambition? Global market leadership. The potential? Revolutionizing cancer treatments.”

HERAN Partners invests with passion and conviction. Our portfolio only includes companies that have the spirit and capacity to drive medical breakthroughs.

Aspect Analytics is that type of company. The KU Leuven start-up, led by Marc Claesen and Nico Verbeeck, is developing a platform that can fundamentally improve cancer diagnosis and therapy. How? With spatial multi-omics analysis.

“This is a leading-edge method that makes the invisible visible and insightful,” Managing Partner Katleen Vandersmissen explains. “The use of this technology will eventually lead to a proliferation of insights and discoveries in the field of oncology and chronic diseases.”

“Making the  invisible visible”

The highly influential scientific journal Nature proclaimed spatial multi-omics analysis as one of the most promising medical innovations at this moment. The technology can greatly improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and chronic diseases.

According to the founders of Aspect  Analytics, the potential is best understood by comparing the analysis of a tumour or a drug’s mechanism of action to assembling a jigsaw puzzle:  

“Most techniques will line up just one piece or a few pieces of the puzzle. For instance, one method may map the genetic code, while another technique  focuses on protein expression. At the same time, diagnosing a disease is a complex process. Spatial multi-omics analysis lines up all the missing pieces in a single move.” - Aspect Analytics

Breaking down silos

The innovative data platform of Aspect Analytics makes it possible to apply spatial multi-omics analysis on a large scale. “Our system combines different analysis methods,” clarifies Marc Claesen, CEO and co-founder of the company. “For example, on the basis of a biopsy, the platform creates a 2-dimensional image of a tissue extract.”

“This allows us to uncover many more associations than is possible with today’s conventional techniques,” continues Nico Verbeeck, COO and co-founder of Aspect Analytics. Instead of looking at different pieces of information separately, we can break down these silos and study all the data combined.”

The rich information that results from this helps to predict the course of diseases, such as cancer. And it helps in predicting how each individual patient will respond to therapies. This is confirmed by Professor Johan Swinnen of the Laboratory of Lipid Metabolism and Cancer at KU Leuven:

“Spatial multi-omics allows us to map cancers in an unprecedented, detailed way. The tools developed by Aspect Analytics are an absolutely crucial element in this.” -  Professor Johan Swinnen (Laboratory of Lipid Metabolism and Cancer at KU Leuven)


Personalized healthcare

Several universities, pharmaceutical companies and research institutes are currently using the technology of Aspect Analytics. Application areas range from diagnostic analysis of diseases to clinical drug trials. “The aim of our investment is to ramp up the capacity of the platform and develop our product further in order to accelerate the company’s expansion. Once that has been done, Aspect Analytics will truly be able to break new ground with its analytics system,” says Katleen Vandersmissen, Managing Partner of HERAN Partners.

The international rollout of the Aspect Analytics platform will result in spatial multi-omics analysis becoming more and more accessible and mainstream. This will set a lot of things in motion in the medical world.

“The technology will make it possible to greatly enhance our knowledge of diseases. In the short term, this will lead to more efficient insights in diseases and therapies and thus to more effective treatments,” says Marc Claesen.
Nico Verbeeck adds: “With the help of spatial multi-omics analysis, we can define the characteristics of each tumour separately and develop highly precise therapies for specific tumour profiles. We call this precision medicine. Via these type of innovations, cancer could evolve more and more into a chronic condition in 10 to 20 years.”


Setting an international standard

Will this happen overnight? Managing Partner Katleen Vandersmissen is very optimistic about the future: “Where DNA sequencing and research was still very experimental 20 years ago and sequencing of a genome took very long and costed millions, today this type of analysis is often standard and you only pay a few hundred euros for it.

The development and emergence of new analysis techniques that generate additional types and increasingly more data and details is a crucial first step. Integrating this information to produce disruptive insights is the next challenge. Spatial multi-omics analysis has that potential. Through the partnership with HERAN Partners, Aspect Analytics aims to set an international standard for this.”             - Katleen Vandersmissen


The facts

Amount?  1.8Mio EUR. HERAN Partners’ contribution is 70%. The other part is financed  by the co-founders, KU Leuven and Dagda Ventures.

The aim?  Further product development, capacity expansion and establishing an  international presence. This will allow Aspect Analytics to grow into a  global market leader in spatial multi-omics analysis.

Why? More efficient medical diagnoses and more effective treatments, resulting in  a strong and better performing global health system.


 Read the full press release (NL)

About Aspect Analytics

Aspect  Analytics started as a spin-off of the STADIUS group within KU Leuven. In  just a few years’ time, founders Marc Claesen and Nico Verbeeck expanded  their company into a leading player in Mass Spectrometry Imaging.

This  Life Science company offers cloud-based applications in the field of bioinformatics and spatial multi-omics analysis. With its fully customized platforms, the company builds solutions for researchers, Big Pharma and BioTech, and  knowledge institutions involved in drug discovery, clinical drug trials and  improving the diagnosis of diseases. This is how Aspect Analytics contributes  to better healthcare.

More information: www.aspect-analytics.com.

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