Not all cells in our bodies are created equal. Scientists around the world are working hard to understand the differences. The work has been difficult because even seemingly uniform tissues like skin can consist of a diverse population of cells, usually in many different states. The differences between cells are important because, for example, they can lead cells to respond in surprisingly different ways to the same drug treatments. Progress has been slowed by the lack of good tools for accurately tagging individual cells in intact tissues for careful study including genomics. Researchers in Ontario are developing innovative technologies to address that need.
Drs. Matthew Bjerknes and Hazel Cheng (University of Toronto) aim to develop new methods for measuring the genomic status of single cells in intact tissues. Collaborating with scientists at the University of Georgia, the research team will validate and optimize efficient methods using micro laser beams to attach unique barcodes to cells. This will make single cell genomics more accessible to labs with limited resources and provide researchers with an effective, low-cost, and easy to use methodology for tagging individual cells in intact tissues for genomic analysis.