Powerful Tool Gathers Data on Immune Response at Single-Cell Level
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Cells interact with their surrounding environment by secreting proteins which act as messengers or signals for communicating with other cells. Capturing these elusive and minute secreted proteins, particularly those from our immune cells, and correlating them to the individual source cells can provide important insights into immune responses in patients with chronic diseases, such as cancer, autoimmune disorders, or infectious diseases, and accelerate the development of immunotherapies.
However, studying how unhealthy or healthy cells communicate, interact and coordinate with each other in response to stimuli or pathogens, remains a challenge for scientists.
To help fill the gap in correlating cell functions with their secreted proteins, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) led by Assistant Professor Cheow Lih Feng from the Department of Biomedical Engineering under the NUS College of Design and Engineering, as well as the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology, has invented a new technique called time-resolved assessment of single-cell protein secretion with sequencing (TRAPS-seq) to facilitate the studying of immune cell response at a single-cell level.
"Having progressive snapshots of the dynamic mechanism of immune cells - from responding to a viral infection to eliminating the threat - can accelerate the development of new therapeutic strategies for disease treatment, such as targeting mechanisms that are selective for cancer cells and hence spare healthy cells and reduce side effects," explained Asst Prof Cheow. "In addition, a better understanding of how healthy cells communicate can provide valuable insights into the normal cellular processes disrupted in cancer."
Reference: Wu T, Womersley HJ, Wang JR, Scolnick J, Cheow LF. Time-resolved assessment of single-cell protein secretion by sequencing. Nat Methods. 2023;20(5):723-734. doi: 10.1038/s41592-023-01841-y
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