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Aug 9, 2018

Recording every cell’s history in real-time with evolving genetic barcodes

Posted by in categories: biological, genetics

All humans begin life as a single cell that divides repeatedly to form two, then four, then eight cells, all the way up to the ~26 billion cells that make up a newborn. Tracing how and when those 26 billion cells arise from one zygote is the grand challenge of developmental biology, a field that has so far only been able to capture and analyze snapshots of the development process.

Now, a new method developed by scientists at the Wyss Institute and Harvard Medical School (HMS) finally brings that daunting task into the realm of possibility using evolving genetic barcodes that actively record the process of cell division in developing mice, enabling the lineage of every cell in a mouse’s body to be traced back to its single-celled origin.

The research is published today in Science as a First Release article.

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