The brain is definitely one of the most important and fascinating parts of our body. Scientists have researched it for years and while we have come a long way, there are still plenty of things to discover.
A team of researchers from UC San Francisco managed to create an atlas that contains extensive information about gene expressions in the developing human brain.
The atlas is available for free
The team led by neuroscientists talked about their project in the latest issue of Science. “The point of creating an atlas like this is to understand how we make a human brain,” explained study co-author Aparna Bhaduri.
The team received help from other researchers at UC Santa Cruz and together they managed to come up with an interactive version of the atlas. The good news is that this version is available for free online.
The researchers analysed gene expression
For this atlas, the team of scientists analysed not only gene expression, but also the way it varies from cell to cell and how they come into play for every stage of brain development.
They managed to make the analysis at the level of individual brain cells, which is something that has never been done before. This means that these results are very clear and researchers were able to see which gene are expressed in the fetal brain.
The discoveries also allowed them to use bits of DNA in order to characterize cellular. “This is not the first study in this area by any means, but the single cell technique is a game changer,” said Ed Lein, a developmental neurobiologist.
“The difference between previous studies and ours is the difference between a smoothie and a fruit salad. They have the same ingredients, but one mixes them together and the other looks at them individually,” added study co-author Alex Pollen