Although we have a decent understanding of what happens in our bodies during the early stages of human life, there’s still a lot we don’t know. For example, what goes wrong to cause some of us to develop certain diseases? To shed light on these types of questions, researchers at the Human Developmental Cell Atlas project are creating a genomic map of all cells in our body that are important for development, for example those in our eyes (image shows different cells in the layers of the retina). So far, the team have sequenced the genetic code of 250,000 cells. By mapping which genes are switched on in these cells, the team can pinpoint exactly what happens when we grow and age. This map will ultimately help us to better understand why miscarriages happen, why some children develop developmental disorders, and what causes some diseases, including cancer.
Written by Gaëlle Coullon
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.