In DepthDIAGNOSTICS

Tests of blood-borne DNA pinpoint tissue damage

Science  18 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6279, pp. 1253
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6279.1253

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Summary

Researchers are working on ways to trace DNA circulating in the blood to the tissue from which it originated. This DNA, shed by normal, dying cells and injured ones, could offer a way to detect early stages of a disease or follow its progression. An Israeli research group reports this week that its technique for tracing the origin of circulating DNA detected the expected type of cell death in people with pancreatic cancer, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and brain injuries. Other groups have reported encouraging results for cancers. The published work does no more than prove the concept; the circulating DNA techniques still need to be tested on a large scale. Still, the studies suggest that tracking blood-borne DNA could be a powerful way to monitor diseases.