Single-cell genomics to comprehensively understand healthy B-cell maturation and transformation to chronic lymphocytic leukemia

The BCLL@las project includes four research groups from the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG) of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), and the Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS). The project received one of the 2018 ERC Synergy Grants to unravel the genomics and epigenomics of chronic lymphocytic leukemia at unprecedented resolution using single-cell analysis.

The aim of Synergy Grants is to address ambitious research questions that can only be answered by the coordinated work of a small group of two to four principal investigators and their teams, bringing together their complementary skills, knowledge and resources. The ultimate goal of the scheme is to give support to a close collaborative interaction that will enable transformative research at the forefront of science, capable of yielding groundbreaking or even unpredictable scientific results and/or cross-fertilizing disciplines.

Two research groups from the CNAG-CRG with expertise in genome sequencing technologies and single-cell genomics led by Ivo Gut and Holger Heyn, and two research groups from the IDIBAPS with expertise in cell biology, pathology and clinic led by Elias Campo and Iñaki Martin-Subero, have been awarded with an 8,3 M€ grant in this call. These researchers will develop the BCLL@tlas project, which aims at resolving the genomic and epigenomic hallmarks of chronic lymphocytic leukemia using single-cell analysis.

Mapping every cell in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is the most frequent adult leukemia in the Western world. This type of leukemia is derived from mature B-cells, which are a class of immune system cells in our blood. There is great variability in the course of this disease in leukemia patients. Some patients stay stable without treatment, some get cured by treatment, while others progress despite treatment or die with a different progression of the disease.

Over the last years, the groups collaborating in this project have already characterized the molecular features of normal B-cell subpopulations and of pools of leukemic cells from chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients. The BCLL@las researchers will apply cutting-edge single-cell methodologies to comprehensively dissect the maturation and differentiation of B-cells, and their transformation to chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The BCLL@las project joins four groups with complementary expertise in B-cell biology, clinical aspects and pathology, genomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, sequencing technologies, single-cell profiling and computational biology, to decipher the genesis and molecular anatomy of chronic lymphocytic leukemia during the entire course of the disease.

Coordinator: 
Ivo Gut (CNAG-CRG, Spain) and Elias Campo (IDIBAPS)