A team of scientists led by Ilana Fox-Fisher MD, PhD student from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor Yuval Dor from the university’s Institute for Medical Research-Israel Canada (IMRIC), respectively, has developed a new method for monitoring remote immune processes in remote tissues as well as organs, including bone marrow, lymph nodes, as well as other organs.
The study, which was published recently in eLife, an open-access scientific journal, is based on two basic biological principles. First, dying cells release DNA fragments into the bloodstream. Second, each cell type's DNA has a varied chemical pattern known as methylation.
Scientists can use these concepts to determine which tissue the circulating DNA fragments came from and then infer the states of the disease.
The researchers detected distinct DNA methylation patterns among immunological and inflammatory cell types as part of their investigation. This allowed them to identify DNA fragments released in the bloodstream after immune cells perished.
The experts put their theory to the test and discovered proof of concept in a variety of health conditions in which the immune cells were engaged yet blood cell counts were normal.
Fox-Fisher stated that the novel non-invasive blood test can go a long way toward assisting in the diagnosis and monitoring of cancer.
The researchers had similar results with lymphoma, cancer that does not generally appear in blood tests. The novel blood test, on the other hand, detected DNA fragments left over from the immune system's struggle against lymphoma even without the requirement for bone marrow aspiration or additional imaging.
Now, Fisher is actively pursuing research of individuals who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine to investigate if the levels of DNA delivered from antibody-producing B-cells grew after they were vaccinated.
Fisher further expressed that the team is hoping that this novel blood test will provide doctors with a clearer picture of their patient's condition than routine blood levels, which sometimes are not reliable and entail invasive follow-up testing and biopsies.