Each of us began life as a single cell, eventually emerging as a dazzlingly complex, exquisitely engineered assemblage of trillions. This metamorphosis constitutes one of nature’s most spectacular yet commonplace magic tricks—and one of its most coveted secrets. Physician and researcher Ben Stanger offers a glimpse into what scientists are discovering about how life and the body take shape, and how these revelations stand to revolutionize medicine and the future of human health.
Stanger examines the remarkable experiments and discoveries that have shaped the modern understanding of embryonic development and explores some of its fascinating puzzles: How does the plethora of different tissues that compose our bodies arise from a single source? How do cells know what they are meant to become—skin or bone, blood or muscle—when all carry the same set of genetic instructions? Once a cell starts developing down one path, can it change, or is its destiny irrevocably sealed?
As Stanger demonstrates, the answers to these questions may empower us to solve some of our most persistently confounding medical challenges, from cancer to cognitive decline to degenerative disease.
His book, From One Cell: A Journey into Life's Origins and the Future of Medicine (W. W. Norton & Company), is available for purchase.
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