- Molecular and cell biology not elsewhere classified
Medical and health sciences
- Cancer biology
Agricultural and food sciences
- Agricultural plant breeding and biotechnology
- Veterinary immunology
The novel single-cell technologies allow to determine the genetic profile of each individual cell per organ. This way, researchers have recently identified novel cell types and activation states that correlate with disease progression or specific developmental stages. However, these techniques are carried out on digested tissue samples and don’t give any information on the precise location of cells. Unfortunately, to fully understand how cellular biology functions, one needs to position the cells in their spatial context. For any cell type, in any species, one needs to know which cells are in the vicinity of the cell of interest. Localising cell types is typically done by antibody-based staining and microscopy. Unfortunately, antibodies are not always available to study specific cell types. Luckily, spatial transcriptomic techniques can now determine the spatial expression of multiple RNA molecules in parallel. As this methodology is based on universal RNA detection, it is applicable across all species: in humans, mammals and plants. The next frontier in single-cell biology is therefore to resolve the precise spatial location of each single cell, so that we can finally understand the tissue architecture for each organ and identify the local cell-cell circuits that control cell fate and functional specialization in health and disease across species. With the SpatialConnect consortium we will build a cutting-edge spatial transcriptomics infrastructure at the Ghent University.