When considering how many cell divisions occur in each of us and how complicated the process of DNA replication must be, it is not surprising that mistakes during DNA replication cause birth defects and cancer. Despite its fundamental importance for all life, we still know little about how DNA replication is controlled in humans. The Sansam laboratory is identifying the genes, molecules, and mechanisms that are needed to replicate our DNA. We expect that such knowledge will provide a clearer understanding of how a wide range of human diseases occur and ultimately will lead to the development of better treatments for diseases such as cancer.
The human body is composed of billions of cells, yet every one of us begins as just a single cell. This means that countless cell divisions occur during a human lifetime. Each cell carries the full set of genes from mom and dad, so every time a cell divides, the genome must be accurately and completely duplicated. We call the process of duplicating genes during cell division “DNA replication.”