Universal Tool for Tracking Cell-to-Cell Interactions

New LIPSTIC technology can track the physical interactions between cells, such as the above depiction of a dendritic cell activating a T cell.

One of the fundamental goals of basic biology is understanding how diverse cell types work in concert to form tissues, organs, and organ systems. Recent efforts to catalog the different cell types in every tissue in our bodies are a step in the right direction, but only one piece of the puzzle. The great mystery of how those cells communicate with one another remains unsolved. Now, a new paper published March 6, 2024 in Nature describes uLIPSTIC, a tool capable of laying the groundwork for a dynamic map tracking the physical interactions between different cells—the elusive cellular interactome. The authors have been perfecting the technology since 2018 and the latest iteration can in principle allow researchers to directly observe any cell-to-cell interaction in vivo. The Nature article is titled “Universal Recording of Immune Cell Interactions in Vivo." “With uLIPSTIC we can ask how cells work together, how they communicate, and what messages they transfer,” says Rockefeller’s Gabriel D. Victora, PhD. “That’s where biology resides.”

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