This technique, which can track changes in gene expression as cells differentiate, could be particularly useful for studying how stem cells or immune cells mature. It could also shed light on how cancer develops.
“Existing methods allow for snapshot measurements of single-cell gene expression, which can provide very in-depth information. What this new approach offers is the ability to track cells over multiple generations and put this information in the context of a cell’s lineal history,” says Robert Kimmerling, a graduate student in biological engineering and the lead author of a paper describing the technique in the Jan. 6 issue of Nature Communications.
The paper’s senior authors are Scott Manalis, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Biological Engineering and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and Alex Shalek, the Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz Career Development Assistant Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, an assistant professor of chemistry, and a member of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.