Actualité - Innovation

Genuage, for the 4-dimensional visualization and analysis of super-resolution microscopy data in virtual reality

Nathalie Boissière
Who as a life science researcher did not dream of entering the cell and interacting with its structures to study them? This dream is about to become a reality thanks to the software platform developed by researchers from the Institut Curie and the Institut Pasteur, which they published in the scientific journal Nature Methods.

There are not yet so many research teams in the world working in this field of virtual reality so that biologists can visualize and analyze very high-resolution microscopy data. One of these teams is here in Paris, at the Institut Curie Research Center.


With Jean-Baptiste Masson's Decision and Bayesian Processes Laboratory at the Institut Pasteur, we have developed an open-source software platform that enables the use of virtual reality in the visualization and analysis of biological data generated from super-resolution microscopies

explains Bassam Hajj, a CNRS researcher, at the Physico-Chemistry Curie Laboratory (CNRS UMR168-Sorbonne Université) of Institut Curie.


Thomas Blanc, the first author of this publication, was an intern at the Institut Pasteur before joining my team as a study engineer. This new platform is the continuation of the DIVA project and their chief engineer was Mohamed El Beheiry.

This software is called Genuage because it allows us to present and analyze point-cloud images. These points are derived from data acquired by a specific type of microscopy, more precisely from single-molecule detections. “This microscopy technique for visualizing living systems at the nanoscopic scale was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2014,” explains the researcher. It is now widely used to visualize the internal structures of a cell with very good resolution beyond a conventional microscope."

In contrast to their previous realization, the Diva* platform, managing volumes composed of pixels generated by an MRI, a CT scan (or computed tomography), a fluorescence microscope, etc., which offers doctors and biologists alike an immersive experience, Genuage is dedicated to so-called pointillist imaging. In fact, super-resolution photonic microscopies, such as STORM or PALM, make it possible to acquire millions of points which, when assembled, represent the infrastructures observed in 4D (3 spatial dimensions and the temporal dimension). With the Genuage software, biologists can explore the interior of cells and visualize organelles in an immersive environment, as if they were walking inside the cell. In addition, Genuage allows different types of measurements to be carried out more efficiently.

This visualization of cell structures in virtual reality at the scale of molecules was previously inaccessible

rejoices Bassam Hajj.

This opens up new perspectives for the observation, study and quantification of the internal organization and architecture of healthy or cancerous cells, which are essential for a better understanding of the processes of carcinogenesis and even for controlling them.

Great discoveries in perspective after the success already achieved by their Diva software platform. Diva is also the result of research work carried out by the team at Institut Pasteur and the Imaging and Cell Organization Control Team at Institut Curie. Diva has enabled the start-up Avatar Medical project to win the i-Lab 2020 prize last July. The latter is developing a visualization platform to facilitate preparations for complex surgeries.


Nature Methods : Genuage: visualize and analyze multidimensional single-molecule point cloud data in virtual reality.
Thomas Blanc 1,2,5, Mohamed El Beheiry1,2,3,4,5, Clément Caporal 1,2, Jean-Baptiste Masson 3,4,6 and Bassam Hajj 1,2,6     

* Diva: Data Integration and Visualization in Augmented and Virtual Environments