First Map of Human Limb Development Reveals Unexpected Growth Processes and Explains Syndromes Found at Birth

Scientists reveal unprecedented insights into human limb development, including the many intricate processes that govern their formation. Human fingers and toes do not grow outward; instead, they form from within a larger foundational bud, as intervening cells recede to reveal the digits beneath. This is among many processes captured for the first time as scientists unveil a spatial cell atlas of the entire developing human limb, resolved in space and time. Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Sun Yat-sen University, EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute, and collaborators applied cutting-edge single-cell and spatial technologies to create an atlas characterizing the cellular landscape of the early human limb, pinpointing the exact location of cells. This study is part of the international Human Cell Atlas initiative to map every cell type in the human body1, to transform understanding of health and disease.

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