Last fall, we reported on a mini-revolution in medicine: a mid-October publication in the journal scienceAn atlas of human brain cells prepared by an international team of researchers.
In their ambitious work – consisting of twenty-one articles – they sought to map all the cell types found in the human brain and their astonishing diversity in terms of neurons.
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A new method called “Zman-seq”
Inevitably, this research has given many patients hope that one day they will be able to trace brain diseases back to their genetic roots.
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In the conclusions of their work, a team of researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) explains that they have developed a new method called Zman-seq. Objective: To follow the various cellular changes that occur in the human body over time. This may be enough to reshape cancer treatments.
Breaking down the time barriers of cellular analysis
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Those who pay close attention to medicine know: cells are essential elements of life. And for good reason: they allow multicellular organisms to perform a wide range of tasks.
In general, traditional scientific methods provide specialists with insight into the state of a cell at a specific time. The problem is that temporal modifications of cells have not been explored in depth yet.
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The researchers, under the supervision of Professor Ido Amit, worked to address this gap that limits our understanding of the sequential events and molecular changes that cells can undergo.
The method they developed, which has been described as revolutionary, breaks the time barriers of cellular analysis. This means that this innovative approach makes it possible to monitor and measure the changes occurring in every cell.
“Knowing what preceded a particular situation is not sufficient to infer causation“, admitted Professor Ido Amit in a press release. However, without this knowledge we have no opportunity to determine cause and effect.”
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A journey into the patient's cytological history
This work arose from observations made by Dr. Daniel Kirschenbaum, a postdoctoral researcher working in the laboratory of Professor Ido Amit. The specialist was careful to clearly define the challenges posed by glioblastoma. Every year, 200,000 people on Earth lose their lives due to this immunosuppressive brain tumor.
Dr. Kirschenbaum worked to understand the dynamics of immune cells within glioblastoma. The specialist wanted to identify the reasons for the inability of these cells, after a while, to resist the tumor.
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“We tend to think of cancer as uncontrolled growth of cells; The researcher said in the same press release, citing the interesting engineering. In fact, cancer is also the loss of the body's ability, and in particular the immune system, to control this growth.
The approach adopted by scientists is called unconventional. First, the team labeled the cells using different timestamps. The experts then followed them individually, both in healthy and pathological tissues. In short, the Zman-seq method is a kind of travel machine through a patient's cellular history.
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Immune cells known as natural killer cells, which are essential for killing unwanted cells, become dysfunctional very quickly.“, explains Dr. Daniel Kirshenbaum in the aforementioned press release. In fact, the tumor hijacks its destructive mechanisms less than twenty-four hours after it enters the immune system.
This is a phenomenon, he says, that means that various therapeutic approaches aimed at exploiting the immune system to fight glioblastoma remain ineffective.
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