Wednesday, March 18

Next-Gen Bloodtests Will Read DNA

DNA on the Loose: Next-Gen Blood Tests Tap Free-Floating Genetic Material:
Tests using floating nucleic acids could diagnose disease, monitor pregnancy and weed out "mad" cows

Free-floating messages in the bloodstream could soon provide a unique window into the body. Researchers worldwide are racing to decipher circulating genetic material for better ways to diagnose disease, monitor pregnancy, and even improve food safety.

Circulating DNA and RNA—temporary gene copies that act as blueprints for protein production—was first discovered in 1948. Researchers still do not fully understand how the free-floating genetic fragments (chemically referred to as nucleic acids) survive outside the protective barriers of cells, but recent technological advances now allow scientists to comb through these tiny messages for clues about human health.

Traditional genetic screens, such as paternity tests and criminal profiling, utilize the abundant DNA stored in the nuclei of circulating blood cells. Although these tests shed light on a person's genetic inheritance, they do not provide insights on the current health of specific tissues and organs—information that could potentially be gleaned from the free nucleic acids. Read more...

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