Ultrashort cell-free DNA reveals health of organ transplants

When cells die, whether through apoptosis or necrosis, the DNA and other molecules found in those cells don’t just disappear. They wind up in the blood stream, where degraded bits and pieces can be extracted. This cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is degraded due to its exposure to enzymes in the blood but is nonetheless a powerful monitoring tool in cancer, pregnancy and organ transplantation. Now, borrowing a genomics technique used in the study of the ancient past, a graduate student has come up with a d…

When cells die, whether through apoptosis or necrosis, the DNA and other molecules found in those cells don’t just disappear. They wind up in the blood stream, where degraded bits and pieces can be extracted. This cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is degraded due to its exposure to enzymes in the blood but is nonetheless a powerful monitoring tool in cancer, pregnancy and organ transplantation. Now, borrowing a genomics technique used in the study of the ancient past, a graduate student has come up with a d…