Wandering Cells. Strangers within us

Original title: Les cellules buissonnières: L’enfant dont la mère n’était pas née et autres folles histoires du mic

Publication Date:

September 2023



Original language and publisher

French | Premier Parallèle

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia

Territories Sold

English (World) (Greystone Books)
Spanish (World) (Alianza, at auction)
South Korea (Pluto)



Number of copies sold:


Wandering Cells. Strangers within us

Original title: Les cellules buissonnières: L’enfant dont la mère n’était pas née et autres folles histoires du mic


Some books change your view of the world.  — Libération

We can never say enough about the beauty of “gaps” in the history of science. Of these moments when the incongruous invites itself to the table of certainties, where measuring instruments make the reigning theories lie. (…) In Les Cellules buissonnières, the fascinating essay by Lise Barnéoud, researchers recount their encounter with a hitherto “unthinkable” reality.  — Télérama

In Les Cellules buissonnières, journalist Lise Barnéoud tells how microchimerism shakes up the limits of the individual.  — Le Monde

A fascinating book. — France Culture

A captivating read! — La Recherche

An incredible journey inside our body, discovering cellular populations whose existence challenges the limits of our being. — Le Point

Unbelievable and astonishing. — RFI

A rich investigation, in contact with the main global players in this unusual field of research. — Sciences et avenir

It’s a field of research that could change absolutely everything, and overturn our long-held certainties. — Ça m’intéresse

An excellent popular science book. — France Bleu Drôme Ardèche

Lise Barnéoud invites us to reinvest the scientific field with a form of dream and poetry, by imagining the immensity of what remains to be discovered. — Bookstore La Nuit des temps, Rennes

A revolution in progress, a dizzying test! — Bookstore Le Bonheur, Montrouge

How microchimerism disrupted science.

Microchimerism is not a word most people have heard, and few fully grasp the reality it describes, even as its discovery overturns our very concept of self.

We thought we knew that our cells are all made up of our DNA, this unique code that defines our identity. We are now discovering that this ‘I’ is deceiving; others’ cells are at work within our bodies.

The phenomenon starts in utero, with a complex choreography of cells. It involves not only the mother and fetus, but extends back generations, and includes siblings and vanishing twins – those embryos which were created at the same time that we were, but which disappeared so rapidly that no one noticed. During this unseen “dance”, other people’s cells become our own, the past creeps into the future and the future goes back in time.

About 20 years ago, the microbiome discovery taught us that we were half composed of microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.) Today we realize that even our human cells don’t belong to us. This is a major upheaval, both to medical science and to the way we understand our identity. These foreign cells communicate with our cells, participate in the functioning of our organs, help repair damaged tissue, and can aid in fighting infections. Microchimerism is a new scientific frontier that ignites the imagination and is proving fertile ground for ideologues of all stripes, turning laboratories into political arenas.

Wandering Cells: Strangers Within Us presents a patient and pedagogical exploration of this fascinating phenomenon, which opens the door to a dizzying array of futures, the shapes of which are only beginning to resolve. Lise Barnéoud is pulling back the curtain on science in the making. She dedicated over a year to this worldwide investigation, side-by-side with the men and women who are shaping the future of science.