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Top Story

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 bloodstream, 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. One fairly recent breakthrough is prenatal testing for conditions such as Down syndrome, as fragments of fetal cfDNA can be detected in a mother’s bloodstream. Now, borrowing a genomics technique used in the study of the ancient past, a Cornell graduate student has come up with a diagnostic tool that can open a window into a transplant recipient’s immediate future through the analysis of cfDNA.

Visit Website | Image credit: Sarah Nickerson/Biomedical Engineering