Techniques converge to map the developing human heart at single-cell level


From Nature by Ragini Phansalkar & Kristy Red-Horse

Three methods for gene-expression profiling have now been combined to produce spatially defined single-cell maps of developing human organs from limited sample material, overcoming a major hurdle in studying human development.

People are often curious about how their bodies work. So, it is no surprise that single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) — which has the power to map all the cell types in the human body — has drawn great interest from scientists and funding agencies alike. But a major limitation of scRNA-seq is that it cannot provide information about where in the original tissue each cell was located. Writing in Cell, Asp et al. demonstrate a way of overcoming this hurdle by combining scRNA-seq with other sequencing methods that retain location information. They use this approach to create a spatially defined cell atlas of the developing human heart.

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