The study of cell-to-cell development has been chosen by the scientific journal "Science" as the Discovery of the year 2018, reported this publication on Thursday.
The magazine explained, according to the agency Efe, that with this choice of the analysis of the genetic activity of a single cell is being honored a triplet of methods that allow researchers to determine, at the level of the individual cell, which genes are activated and which others are deactivated as soon as an embryo begins to develop.
"These technologies create some of the most extraordinary films that have been made, showing how a single cell grows in complex tissues and organs of a mature animal," explained the news editor of "Science" Tim Appenzeller.
The process involves isolating whole cells of organisms, sequencing their genomic content in what is known as RNA sequencing, and marking early cells and their descendants and then following how they divide into multiple types during development.
Scientists say that single-cell RNA sequencing could transform the landscape of medical and biological research in the next ten years.
One of the editors of «Science» Elizabeth Pennisi stressed that «the ability to isolate thousands of individual cells and sequence the genetic material of each one offers a snapshot of what RNA is being produced in each cell at that moment».
"Because the RNA sequences are specific to the genes that produce them, Researchers can see immediately which genes are active. These active genes define what the cell does, "he said.
Pennisi said that "only in 2018 have studies detailed how a flatworm (also known as a flat worm), a fish, a frog and other organisms begin to manufacture organs and limbs. Groups around the world are applying techniques to study how human cells mature throughout life, how tissues regenerate, and how cells change in diseases, including cancer. "
Apart from RNA sequencing, researchers have been able to introduce "trackers", through fluorescent tags or through the gene editing technique known as CRISP, into early cells of the embryo to track them in order to see how they develop then.
"With the combination of these techniques and single-cell RNA sequencing, scientists can monitor the behavior of individual cells and see how they couple the developing architecture of the organism," Pennisi added.
"Others," he added, "are applying similar techniques to know what happens in developing organs, extremities, and other tissues-and how these processes can go wrong, resulting in malformations or disease." EFE