Novel Cell Atlas for Multiple Human Tissues Reveals Discoveries Underlying Complex Diseases

June 13, 2022

Scientists from the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard have developed a first-of-its-kind cross-tissue cell atlas, and in collaboration with a team of Mass Eye and Ear researchers led by Ayellet V. Segrè, PhD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, have uncovered new clues for specific cell types and genes involved in complex diseases.

Genetic studies of common human diseases have linked many genetic variants to disease risk but understanding the implicated genes and the cell types through which the genes affect disease is challenging. Complex diseases are often caused by dysfunction of more than one cell type or tissue. Profiling the cell types and genes active in each cell type across multiple tissues or organs is needed to tackle this problem for a range of diseases.

Previous research has primarily focused on single-cell atlases derived from one particular healthy or diseased tissue. In a new study published in Science, researchers described for the first time how their novel cross-tissue cell atlas derived from an analysis of nuclei from 25 frozen samples from 8 tissue types may increase understanding of the cellular and genetic underpinnings of complex diseases, including heart disease and cancers. Read the press release