Cataloguing every type of cell through the ‘Human Cell Atlas’

cell atlas

“No one really knows how many [types of human cells] there will be,” [Aviv Regev] says. Immunologists had already counted more than 300 in the immune system alone. The eye’s retina, other research showed, has more than 100. How many in the whole body? Regev won’t even try to predict.

For the last two years Regev, a professor of biology at MIT, has been co-leading a massive international effort to get that answer. Called the Human Cell Atlas Consortium, the effort aims to account for and better understand every cell type and sub-type, and how they interact.

Looking at all those building blocks, [Sarah]Teichmann and Regev say, will offer many new insights into how the body works and what goes wrong in disease. Regev and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital published their first major Human Cell Atlas finding.

Related article:  1 year later, first gene edited sickle cell patient is functionally cured

Working first in mice and then human tissue, they discovered that the lining of the windpipe — the tube that connects the throat and lungs — has seven cell types instead of the expected six.

And that new type of cell could prove crucial for understanding and eventually developing a cure for cystic fibrosis.

Making the atlas won’t solve every problem in medicine, just as having the entire map of the human genome from the Human Genome Project didn’t fix everything. But, Regev says, it’s a good place to start.

Read full, original post: Ambitious ‘Human Cell Atlas’ Aims To Catalog Every Type Of Cell In The Body

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