Researchers report genomic sequencing of 250,000 developmental cells


Researchers from the global Human Cell Atlas Consortium report that they have sequenced a quarter of a million separate cells that are of importance for early development of organs such as the liver, skin and kidneys. Sten Linnarsson at Karolinska Institutet is participating in the project.

Using powerful single-cell genome analysis tools, researchers from Human Developmental Cell Atlas (HDCA), one part of the ambitious Human Cell Atlas (HCA) project, have collected genomic data from over 250,000 cells from a range of donated developing human tissues. The HDCA program will create genomic reference maps of all the cells that are important for human development, aiming to revolutionise our understanding of health and disease, from miscarriages and developmental disorders, through to cancer and ageing.

The Swedish part of the project is focusing on the development of the brain, lung and heart, and on first trimester development. Researchers from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Science for Life Laboratory are collaborating to discover how these organs develop in order to understand normal human development and shed light on developmental disorders.

Professor Sten Linnarsson at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics is one of the researchers behind the development of the techniques which enable the project.

“About a third of neurological disorders are developmental in origin, including autism, schizophrenia and intellectual disability,” says Professor Linnarsson. “Developmental heart disorders are the most common complications in newborns, and incomplete lung development is the most common cause of death in extremely premature babies. Learning about how these organs develop will help us make progress on disorders that severely affect large numbers of babies and children.”


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