Additional information about this network, including datasets and any atlases assembled so far, can be found on our Data Portal.
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The human breast consists of a glandular epithelial network embedded into an adipose-rich tissue that connects the milk-producing lobular units through an intricate network of ducts to the nipple to enable breastfeeding of infants after pregnancy. Histopathological studies have identified around 10 major cell types that are spatially organized into three major areas of the breast: ductal and lobular epithelium, adipose regions, and interconnective tissues.
The central goal of the Breast Biological Network of the Human Cell Atlas is to build a spatially resolved atlas of cell types and states using a combination of multi-modal single cell genomics as well as in situ transcriptomics and proteomics approaches. This international project currently involves the collaboration between multiple groups in the US and the UK. We aim to analyze samples from hundreds of women to reconstruct the natural variation and life cycle of this organ by integrating individual metadata such as age, breast size/density, ethnicity, body-mass index (BMI), pregnancy/parity status as well as menstrual cycle or menopausal stage. In addition to single cell RNA sequencing, we will include single cell epigenomic profiling, spatially-resolved genomic and proteomic technologies, and perform functional validation of paracrine cell type interactions using primary human organoid systems. The breast cell atlas will serve as an unprecedented reference for studying diseases such as breast cancer, mastitis and lactation failure.