Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered four new types of human blood cells.
Traditionally, scientists have discovered new types of blood cell by analyzing the protein markings on the surface of cells. However, this technique often overlooks hard to identify or rare types of blood cells.
In the new study, funded by the Welcomm Trust, MIT researchers used a technique called single-cell genomics.
“Two important white blood cell types in our bodies help defend us from infection – dendritic cells and monocytes,” said Dr Divya Shah of the Wellcome Trust.
“In this study, scientists have used cutting-edge technologies to find that there are many more types of cell than we originally thought,” Shah said.
‘The next step “is to find out what each of these cell types do in our immune system, both when we’re healthy and during disease,” Shah added.
Researchers have identified two new dendritic cell subtypes and two monocyte subtypes. They have also discovered a new dendritic cell progenitor.
The research is one of the first major findings from a Human Cell Atlas initiative, announced last year by Wellcome. The findings offer a” useful basis for conducting this kind of analysis on other cell types and tissues,” the Trust said.
The findings were published in Science.
Source: Welcomm Trust