A single-cell biology is a key tool that is helping researchers advance our understanding of how childhood diseases arise and progress at a cellular level. Recognizing the unique power of single-cell measurements, the international Human Cell Atlas (HCA) community is employing these new technologies to create shared and foundational references of all cell types in the healthy human body that will accelerate many scientific studies of health and disease. Including samples from pediatric donors will help fill critical gaps in our understanding of the cellular mechanisms of diseases that arise in childhood, and also help improve diagnostics, therapeutics, and scientific research tailored to pediatrics.
Learn more about this global initiative to make progress on childhood diseases and of other funded projects allowing researchers to contribute pediatric tissue samples to the global Human Cell Atlas as a foundation for understanding how cells and organs mature and relate to disease onset in children.
This collaborative network will map the healthy gut in infants and children ages zero to five. The team will map early gut development across populations with diverse ancestry and geography, at single-cell resolution, and with linked contextual data on tissue morphology, genetic background, social determinants of health, and environmental exposures. The team will assemble transcriptomic and spatial reference datasets of mucosal tissue from the small intestine, paired with comprehensive clinical metadata, and make this data available to the wider scientific community, including the Human Cell Atlas and CZI Science tool cellxgene. Environmental heavy metal exposure, a potential factor affecting early gut development, will also be measured and correlated to changes in gut function and cellular phenotypes.
The project includes a coordinated patient engagement strategy involving partnerships with local community organizations, parents, and stakeholders to recruit children undergoing diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopies for indications likely to yield healthy mucosal tissue. These community partnerships will also focus on knowledge dissemination and advocacy around gut health, as well as assessing community priorities for future research.