Science for children: The cell

If we look at our body with a microscope, we could have a zoom magnifying several hundred (or even thousands!) times what is in it. We can then see what we call cells: the human body contains about 10,000 to 100,000 billion cells.
The cells must be imagined as microscopic mini-factories, each with its own area of specialization.

Published on 15.02.2021


For example, the cells that make up skin will not be the same as those in the brain, stomach or bones. Their shapes will be different and their missions too! For example: the cells of the intestine, with their shape and the chemical elements they make, help the digestion process. Certain cells in the skin are specialized in detecting hot and cold: their shape and the products they make allow them to transmit "hot" or "cold" information to the brain!

But beyond their "specialization", the cells have points in common, shared by the majority of them. Among these elements, there are:

- The membrane, which can be seen as the bag that contains all the elements of the cell. The membrane is very important because it is through it that products can enter or leave the cells, such as sugar, for example.

- The cytoplasm, a liquid contained in the cell in which a large number of elements can interact or move. These elements are necessary tools for the cell's activities. They allow the production of energy, proteins, etc...

- The nucleus is the central element of the cell because it represents the box in which the DNA is located.

To learn more about DNA, the instructions for building living beings, go here:

Cells are the smallest living unit known to date, there are some in animals as well as in plants or even insects, fungi, yeasts ... however, depending on which living being and which cells we choose to observe, we may find differences in their organizations, their forms ...

At the Imagine Institute, cells are very useful allies for researchers. Indeed, patients suffering from rare genetic diseases can donate some of their cells (with a blood sample for example) so that researchers can analyze them in the laboratory to identify the disease that affects them, but also to understand how genetic diseases work. At Imagine, there is a technological platform that is dedicated to the very advanced observation of cells: researchers are then able to analyze the cells with a magnifying glass, one by one! To find out more about this technology, click here :

Cells can also be great tools for researchers to test treatments before going further in clinical trials for patients.