New Research Center to Focus on Mammalian Single Cell Genomics
News Jun 15, 2012
The Broad Institute and Fluidigm Corporation have announced the launch of a new research center dedicated to accelerating the development of research methods and discoveries in mammalian single-cell genomics.
The Single-Cell Genomics Center is also expected to act as a hub for collaboration among single-cell genomics researchers in many pioneering fields, including stem cells and cancer biology.
The Center will be housed at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts and will feature a complete suite of Fluidigm single-cell tools, protocols and technologies, most notably the BioMark™ HD System.
The Center grew out of ongoing collaborations between the Broad Institute and Fluidigm that bridge multiple genomic platforms.
"With the Single-Cell Genomics Center, we will enable researchers to access the exciting new world of single-cell genomics, catalyze discoveries and advance our understanding of this important area of biology," said Wendy Winckler, Ph.D., Director of the Genetic Analysis Platform at the Broad Institute.
"The cell is the fundamental unit of life, and through greater understanding of it, researchers can make breakthroughs in large and important fields, such as cancer diagnosis and therapy, stem cell biology, vaccine development, and even the mounting battle against drug-resistant bacteria. We expect this center to inspire, enable and accelerate efforts in the emerging field of single-cell research," said Gajus Worthington, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fluidigm.
Researchers have long known that heterogeneity exists among cells in tissue samples and other populations, but this cellular variability is masked by averaging data across pooled cell samples.
The ability to tease out single-cell genomic data has historically been limited by a lack of standardized, user-friendly methods that would allow the broader biological and clinical communities to study individual cellular variability at high definition, high throughput, and low cost.
Advances in technology, such as Fluidigm's microfluidic chips and high-throughput instruments, have made single-cell studies feasible by converting cellular heterogeneity from a source of background noise to a source of information enabling cutting-edge discoveries.
Fluidigm's technology provides the capabilities required to analyze single cells: microfluidics and sensitivity at the nanoscale level; parallel processing of a large number of cells; and interrogation of a large number of gene targets.
This unique combination of technological capabilities has fueled an upsurge in single-cell research and propelled Fluidigm technology into a leadership position in supplying tools to single-cell genomic researchers.
Through this collaborative effort, the Center intends to develop novel single-cell, microfluidic approaches for gene expression profiling, RNA/DNA sequencing and epigenetic analysis.
The goal of these efforts is to make single-cell research accessible to the greater scientific community by developing and disseminating new workflows, reagents, bioinformatics tools, and data sets.
These advances will allow deeper exploration of the underlying causes of many diseases, including the progression of individual cancers, differential immune responses, and the maturation of stem cells.
"Our intent is to establish the Center as a focal point to enhance collaboration and accelerate the science, applications, methods and discoveries in single-cell genomics research," said Ken Livak, Ph.D., Fluidigm Senior Scientific Fellow, who will act as the Alliance Manager at the Broad Institute, overseeing research projects amongst the Center and project partners.
"Our efforts with the Broad Institute in forming a center that specifically focuses on single-cell research represent a big step forward for this emerging area of biological research," Livak concluded.
Fluidigm equipment is currently being installed at the Center and first proposals for projects are being solicited from the Broad community of researchers. It is expected that the Single-Cell Genomics Center will become fully operational this quarter.
In treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), physicians can have a hard time telling which newly diagnosed patients have a high risk of severe inflammation or what therapies will be most effective. Now researchers report finding an epigenetic signature in patient cells that appears to predict inflammation risk in a serious type of IBD called Crohn’s disease.