Gene Mapping of Human Embryo: Impact of Scientific Breakthrough

Gene Mapping of Human Embryo: Impact of Scientific Breakthrough

Question: Scientists have mapped genes activated in the first few days of fertilised human egg for the first time. Discuss the impact of this scientific breakthrough.

- An international group of scientists have mapped the genes activated during the first few days of fertilised human egg

- This is led by Swedish Karolinska Institutet which found that newly identified genes partner junk DNA in influencing the start of development

Close to 23,000 human genes exist. Scientists in the current study found 32 of the genes were switched on 2 days following fertilisation

- The scientists also found that by day three, there were 129 activated genes

- 7 of the genes located and characterised in this case were not previously known

- The genes are an ignition key required to start off human embryonic development much like the ripple effect

- Researchers have also developed new ways of analysing results to discover new genes

- Most genes code for proteins but there are numerous repeated DNA sequences often considered to be junk DNA which in fact facilitate gene expression

- Results provide insight into regulation of early embryonic development in humans

Facts and Stats

- The research team identified novel factors used in reprogramming cells into pluripotent stem cells for possible treatment of range of diseases including infertility

- At the commencement of an individual’s life, there is a single fertilised egg cell

- One day after the fertilisation, there were 2 cells

- Following two days, there were 4 and after three days, there were 8 and so on until there are billions of cells at birth

- Order in which genes are activated following fertilisation remains a mystery till mapping like this is done

- Journal Nature Communications is where this study will be published.
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