The human body is a mosaic of different genomes

Source: Nature

The human body is a complex mosaic made up of clusters of cells with different genomes — and many of these clusters bear mutations that could contribute to cancer, according to a sweeping survey of 29 different types of tissue.

It is the largest such study to date, and compiles data from thousands of samples collected from about 500 people. The results, published on 6 June in Science1, could help scientists to better understand how cancer starts, and how to detect it earlier.

“We now appreciate that we are mosaics’, and that a substantial number of cells in our body already carry cancer mutations,” says Iñigo Martincorena, a geneticist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK. “These are the seeds of cancer.”