Dead Cells Tell Tales
Noninvasive biopsy uses DNA fragments to detect disease
Olivia Gaskill | | Quick Read
Researchers at Hebrew University have shown that a simple blood test can uncover information about the state of dead cells and, ultimately, detect disease (1). Using cfChIP-seq – sequencing of plasma cell-free nucleosomes – they identified DNA fragments in dying cells to uncover specific pathological changes in patients with metastatic colorectal carcinoma and patients with liver disease.
“We understood that if [epigenetic] information is maintained within the DNA structure in the blood, we could use that data to determine the tissue source of dead cells and the genes that were active in those very cells. Based on those findings, we can uncover key details about the patient’s health,” said Nir Friedman, author on the study (2). “We are able to better understand why the cells died, whether it’s an infection or cancer and, based on that, be better positioned to determine how the disease is developing.”
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- R Sadeh et al., Nat Biotechnol, [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 33432199.
- AK Leichman (2021). Available at: http://bit.ly/3bzIRJH.