A world-first, large scale study of high-grade brain tumours to identify intra-tumoural cellular heterogeneity using the single cell sequencing technique
Over the last century, insufficient progress has been made in the management of brain cancer, therefore, a better understanding of its underlying biology is needed. Glioblastomas, the deadliest form of brain cancer, are intricate ecosystems composed of diverse malignant cells and non-malignant cells, whose behaviour as a whole determines response to therapies and patient outcome.
While it is critical to precisely measure all cellular elements in brain cancers, standard genomic and transcriptomic methods profile these complex entities as bulk samples, measuring only the average signal and masking the inherent cellular diversity. Bulk transcriptomic expression profiles have been instrumental in our initial understanding of brain biology and cancer but provide limited insight into tumour differences and identification of rare cellular subtypes that may be the cause of the cancer.
Single-cell analysis techniques (scRNA-seq) provide an opportunity to access information about cellular biology at unprecedented resolution. This advanced technique allows us to analyse the transcriptome from individual cells. scRNA-seq has revealed complex tumour differences and expanded our understanding of cancer initiating cells and tumour microenvironment interactions. A better understanding of the molecular features of brain tumours through scRNA-seq will aid in the development of novel treatment strategies.