Francesco Salvatore, Federica Cariati and Rossella Tomaiuolo
Single-cell approaches are being increasingly used to unravel the many diverse mechanisms underlying biological processes that characterize each cell irrespective of the influx of other cells even within the same tissue. Consequently, the interference of metabolites and nervous stimuli emanating from the circulatory or nervous system in a higher organism like man is avoided. However, while the single-cell approach yields a wealth of data about single-cell metabolism and internal regulatory mechanisms, information about interactions and interrelations among similar or dissimilar cells may remain obscure. Starting from these considerations, here we summarize, without attempting to be exhaustive, some areas in which we think single-cell biological studies could be effective in translational medicine and in other areas of applied sciences. In this short review we describe the facts, challenges and perspectives related to these issues.