JERUSALEM, Israel – A team of researchers at Hebrew University say they have found a way to diagnose a wide variety of diseases, including cancers, through a new blood test.
The technology was created with the hopes of decreasing the need for invasive biopsies.
“In diagnostic medicine, biopsies, where a sample of tissue is extracted for analysis, is a common tool for the detection of many conditions. But this approach has several drawbacks - it can be painful, doesn’t always extract the diseased tissue, and can only be used in a sufficiently advanced disease stage, making it, in some cases, too late for intervention,” a press release from the university said.
Prof. Nir Friedman and Dr. Ronen Sadeh of the Life Sciences Institute and School of Computer Engineering have developed a new approach to finding diseases or tumors by examining dead cells in the body. Millions of cells in our bodies die every day and are replaced with new ones. When cells die, the DNA inside of them is fragmented. Prof. Friedman and Dr. Sadeh say they have found a way to precisely “read” information from DNA in the blood to identify a disease or tumor, determine its nature, identify its location in the body, and even how far the disease or tumor has progressed.
“As a result of these scientific advancements, we understood that if this information is maintained within the DNA structure in the blood, we could use that data to determine the tissue source of dead cells and the genes that were active in those very cells. Based on those findings, we can uncover key details about the patient’s health,” Professor Friedman explained. “We are able to better understand why the cells died, whether it’s an infection or cancer, and based on that be better positioned to determine how the disease is developing.”
Dr. Ronen Sadeh believes their approach can help medical experts diagnose diseases faster. The pair are also working to make their blood test assessable to pharmaceutical companies.
“Recognizing the potential of this approach and how this technology can be so beneficial for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, we set up the company Senseera which will be involved with clinical testing in partnership with major pharmaceutical companies with the goal of making this innovative approach available to the patient,” said Sadeh.
The team has also published their study in the Nature Biotechnology journal.
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