publication date: Jul. 5, 2019
UCI researchers to lead national effort to build atlas of human breast cells
University of California, Irvine researchers will lead a national effort to document the cell types and states in breast tissue that underlie cancer. Compilation of the Human Breast Cell Atlas will be supported by a $4 million Seed Network grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
The UCI team—headed by Kai Kessenbrock and Devon Lawson of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center—spans multiple schools and disciplines and includes Jered Haun of The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and clinical researchers Kari Kansal, Erin Lin, and Ritesh Parajuli of the School of Medicine. They will collaborate with investigators from the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.
“We are currently experiencing the incredible convergence of genomics, bioengineering and computational biology, which now enables us to understand the complexity of the human body in unprecedented resolution,” said Kessenbrock, assistant professor of biological chemistry. “The Human Breast Cell Atlas will not only allow us to identify previously unrealized cell types, but also lead to a better grasp of how these cells communicate with each other in normal tissue homeostasis and disease.”
The endeavor will generate a high-resolution, multidimensional depiction of the cell types and states in human breast tissue, as well as their variation across women, which will serve as a unique reference for studying conditions such as breast cancer, mastitis and lactation failure.
Over the past year—also with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative funding—Kessenbrock and Lawson conducted a pilot project in which more than 200,000 breast tissue cells from 20 individuals were profiled. The team documented over 12 cell types and 31 states.
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