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As every year, the science magazine Science has made known what have been the great discoveries of the year. On this occasion, the publication considers that the RNA sequencing of individual cells (Single cell RNA-seq), a set of techniques that allows researchers to enter the body of living beings and explore all their organs cell by cell , is the great discovery of 2018.
The sequencing of individual cells allows researchers to discover what types of genes are active in a cell , to know its function, to tag it to follow it throughout its life and even to see how it interacts with other cells in a three-dimensional plane.
An advance that allows the scientific community to discover the molecular processes that cause cancer and other diseases.
Back in 2013, when these types of techniques became universal, RNA sequencing allowed the analysis of hundreds of cells at the same time. However, with the passage of time, this practice has evolved to the point of being able to analyze several hundred thousand individually.
In this way, researchers have been able to discover a new class of cells, present in the area of contact between the uterus and the placenta, which perform a mediation task with the immune system to recognize the fetus and not attack it during the first months of gestation.
But not only that. Scientists have also been able to see how cells act when it comes to regenerating the body and limbs in animals such as planarians and axolotls.
All with the aim of understanding more about this field. A series of techniques that could transform the landscape of medical and biological research in the next ten years, as the researcher at the University of California in San Francisco, Jonathan Weissman, maintains: 'It's like having a black box where you can see what It was wrong and not just look at the still picture of the end. '
But the sequencing of individual cells has not been the only great discovery of the year . In its publication, the magazine Science also makes special mention of the discovery of an old crater that impacted on Greenland of 31 kilometers in diameter, the discovery of Denny , a woman who lived more than 50,000 years ago and is considered the first daughter of two different human species (Neandertal and Denisovano) or research around Dickinsonia , the first animal on Earth.
Beyond these findings, the publication also highlights other scientific advances as the gene silencing to prevent new diseases , a new analysis technique that enables making small crystals in three dimensions to determine the structure of small molecules or a neutrino detector, a almost massless particles that move at the speed of light and that cross our body constantly.
Finally, the publication makes special mention of the discovery of small droplets that build cells , a finding that could help cure diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the resolution of a case through the forensic genealogy and the report of The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine of the United States on sexual harassment of women working in this field. In short, 2018 has been a year in which cell biology has had a lot of weight.
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