For fifteen years, researchers across the globe have amassed data showing differences in gene expression between cells that differentiate into multiple cell types as they develop in vivo and those that are removed and retain their pluripotency.  But it had been impossible to study single cells due to the limits of technology, and knowing the differences in individual cells allows scientists to gain better understanding of the genes that are essential for the mammalian development.

In a groundbreaking paper published in the May 7 issue of Cell Stem Cell, researchers from the University of Cambridge and Life Technologies traced the lineage of individual cells removed from the inner cell mass of mouse embryos, which is the origin of mouse embryonic stem cells.  The results of the experiments clearly showed clear differences in gene expression between embryonic stem cells and in vivo cells that travel down very specific developmental pathways. The sensitivity of SOLiD sequencing and TaqMan assays made it possible to study the gene expression differences among single cells.

Such research not only contributes significantly to scientific knowledge, it is a great example of the power of digital biology.  In other words, studying cells one at a time can give you greater knowledge than studying tens or hundreds or thousands of cells.  Life Technologies’ innovations will continue to build upon digital biology.

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