New ways of studying stem cells allow scientists to better understand how they turn into other types of cells. Neuroscientist John Ngai at the University of California, Berkeley, has discovered a revolutionary method to look at stem cells. He explains that studying these in the past was limited to looking at the entire population of cells at once.
“My analogy would be if you come to Memorial Stadium on a big game day and you want to get an idea of how many Stanford fans there are and how many Cal fans there are and where they are sitting. The old way would only allow us to look at the entire stadium and to get an average of red hats and blue hats, and you might get an idea of what fraction of people are wearing read versus blue, but you wouldn’t have a precise definition of numbers, locations or anything like that. So the revolution for us has been the ability to interrogate what genes are being expressed not in the entire tissue but on a cell-by-cell basis.”