A set of new technologies allows you to spread yourself into the body of living beings and explore all of your organs through the cells. A vision of life that was even a few years ago was impossible. This set of techniques, known as RNA that follows individual cells, is the discovery of the year, according to the famous Science magazine.
These techniques, whose use has been generalized since 2013, allows us to know which genes that are active in cells, to know its function, have tagged to & # 39; w follow throughout its life and see how it interacts with other cells in a three-dimensional plane. So you can see how embryo a few cells cause different organs to create a healthy person or reveal the molecular processes that cause cancer and other diseases.
About five years ago, these techniques allowed continuity as hundreds of cells at a time; Several hundreds of thousands can now be analyzed. This allows the characterization of whole organs and even whole organisms. One of the applications of this technology is to find new types of cells in the human body. This year, a new class of cells found in the link between the womb and the placenta were discovered. They carry out a mediation task with the mother's immune system so that the mother recognizes the fetus and is not attacked during the first months of pregnancy. The same thing has happened in the brain or the respiratory system.
"If we think there are around 3,000 different types of cells in the human body, we believe that there are 10 times more," said Holger Heyn, researcher at the National Center for Analysis Genomics, in Barcelona, and one of the Atlas Celular project co-ordinators. Human
This initiative, which emerged in 2016 and comprises more than 1,000 scientific teams from 58 countries, will provide the first cell map of 10 human organs in 2022. "These techniques gives us Google Maps of the complete human body that we can amplify each organ and explore through cells by cell. First, we will have a reference to a healthy body and then add specific profiles of diseases, "he said.
The Heyn team focuses on the immune system b cell cell atlas. "These cells have a key role in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and, thanks to this technique, we can know what's going on these cells. For example, we will analyze blood from non-patients respond to the treatments and from others that do not resist after receiving the drugs. In this way, we may be able to predict the specific patient's prognosis and adjust the treatments, for example, to give one very aggressive or not, "he said.
From the development of the first human cell atlas, the European LifeTime project aims to analyze the origin and progression of cancer and other diseases at the cell level. This initiative also competes to receive a billion euro money from the European Commission. These types of techniques are used in animal and human tissue models, but they can not be applied now in people living. In any case, experts emphasize that this does not have to be a restriction for potential medical use.
The team of Nikolaus Rajewsky, a European project co-ordinator, is developing small human organs created from reprogrammed patient cells that can be followed by individual cell sequence and see how they change with different drugs.