It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness: single-cell transcriptomics sheds new light on pancreas biology and disease

Amelia T. Cephas, William L. Hwang, Anirban Maitra, Oren Parnas*, Kathleen E. Delgiorno*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Recent advances in single-cell RNA sequencing and bioinformatics have drastically increased our ability to interrogate the cellular composition of traditionally difficult to study organs, such as the pancreas. With the advent of these technologies and approaches, the field has grown, in just a few years, from profiling pancreas disease states to identifying molecular mechanisms of therapy resistance in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, a particularly deadly cancer. Single-cell transcriptomics and related spatial approaches have identified previously undescribed epithelial and stromal cell types and states, how these populations change with disease progression, and potential mechanisms of action which will serve as the basis for designing new therapeutic strategies. Here, we review the recent literature on how single-cell transcriptomic approaches have changed our understanding of pancreas biology and disease progression.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1211–1219
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ATC is supported by NIH T32GM139400. WH is supported by NCI K08CA270417 and a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists. AM is supported by the MD Anderson Pancreatic Cancer Moon Shot Program, the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Foundation and NIH (U01CA200468, U54CA274371, U24CA274274, R01CA220236). OP is supported by European Research Council (ERC) (No. 758735 O.P.), Israel Science Foundation grant (No. 526/18 O.P.), and Israel Cancer Research Fund (Research Career Development Award). KED is supported by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (NIH/NCI P30 CA068485), the Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Research Center (NIH/NIDDK P30 DK058404), the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center SPORE in Gastrointestinal Cancer (NIH/NCI 5P50 CA236733), the American Gastroenterological Association Research Scholar Award (AGA2021-13), the Department of Defense (W81XWH2211121) and NIH/NIGMS R35 GM142709.

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • pancreatic cancer
  • pancreatic fibrosis
  • pancreatitis


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