Scientists in Montreal have discovered that not all human cells are identical, a surprising observation that could turn genetic research upside down.
For years, scientists have worked on the assumption that, when it comes to DNA, every cell in the body is essentially similar to every other cell.
But the results of a study published in the July issue of the journal Human Mutation show there are major genetic differences between blood and tissue cells.
“This is very important and exciting,” said Dr. Morris Schweitzer of McGill University’s department of medicine, who led the study.
He said that, when looking for genetic risk factors for diseases, researchers have assumed blood cells were a mirror of what was happening in tissue cells.
“Our findings show that it’s not the case. You have to look at the tissue if you really want to study the genetics of the disease,” Schweitzer said.