Recent advances in single-cell transcriptomics have greatly improved knowledge of complex transcriptional programs, rapidly expanding our knowledge of cellular phenotypes and functions within the tumour microenvironment and immune system. Several new single-cell technologies have been developed over recent years that have enabled expanded understanding of the mechanistic cells and biological pathways targeted by immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, which are now routinely used in patient management with high-risk early-stage or advanced melanoma. These technologies have method-specific strengths, weaknesses and capabilities which need to be considered when utilising them to answer translational research questions. Here, we provide guidance for the implementation of single-cell transcriptomic analysis platforms by reviewing the currently available experimental and analysis workflows. We then highlight the use of these technologies to dissect the tumour microenvironment in the context of cancer patients treated with immunotherapy. The strategic use of single-cell analytics in clinical settings are discussed and potential future opportunities are explored with a focus on their use to rationalise the design of novel immunotherapeutic drug therapies that will ultimately lead to improved cancer patient outcomes.
Keywords: cancer; diagnosis; immunotherapy; melanoma; sequencing; single-cell; spatial; transcriptomics; treatment.