Another bright spot for the Ramachandran lab in 2020 is our first publication reviewing epigenomic methods that probe cell-free DNA in disease. Our angle, in line with the lab focus, is how chromatin structures captured in the blood can inform us about the biological state of a person.
Circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) provides an opportunity to develop blood tests for cancer. cfDNA harbors tissue-based information from which it originates and is of major interest for detecting cancer mutations. Surprisingly, cfDNA is generated in our bodies similar to the laboratory methods used to profile how DNA is packaged in our cells. Our review highlights connections between cfDNA features beyond the DNA sequence and the state and identities of cells that give rise to cfDNA. cfDNA provides the means to apply knowledge from the field of DNA packaging towards diagnosing and understanding cancer in humans.