Researchers uncover cell types of the human breast epithelium
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IMAGE: Using a next generation sequencing technology in combination with single-cell mRNA sequencing (scRNAseq), researchers from UCI and UCSF, created a high-resolution molecular census of human breast epithelial cells and identified… view more 

Credit: Kai Kessenbrock, PhD

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, in collaboration with scientists at UCSF and Northwestern University, have profiled human breast epithelial cells, identifying three new distinct epithelial cell populations. The discovery of these cell populations could aid in understanding the origins of breast cancer and lead to improved early cancer detection, a slowing of cancer progression and possibly even cancer prevention.

The study, published in Nature Communications, was led by UCI biomedical researcher Kai Kessenbrock, PhD, assistant professor of biological chemistry, and titled, “Profiling human breast epithelial cells using single cell RNA sequencing identifies cell diversity.” The researchers used a next generation sequencing technology in combination with single-cell mRNA sequencing (scRNAseq) to create a high-resolution molecular census of human breast epithelial cells. The scRNAseq technology enabled the recognition of previously unseen cellular differences.

Breast cancer arises from breast epithelial cells that acquire genetic alterations. These alterations lead to cellular changes within the breast tissue that eventually develop into cancer.

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