Dr. Darshana Dadhania, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, served as co-senior author on a breakthrough paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (August 2019) that has deciphered a new role for cell-free DNA (dead fragments of DNA) in identifying viruses and bacteria and associated damage in the human body. Dr. Dadhania collaborated with Dr. Manikkam Suthanthiran (Division Chief) and Dr. John R. Lee (Assistant Professor of Medicine) in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, and with investigators at Cornell University, Ithaca campus.
The team’s paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, entitled “A Cell-free DNA Metagenomic Sequencing Assay that Integrates the Host Injury Response to Infection,” illuminates a technique that has enabled a low-cost urine test that can identify thousands of bacteria and viruses in humans. Importantly, infections causing tissue damage can be readily discerned. Dr. Dadhania explains that in terms of kidney transplants, this new urine test has suggested a way in which to monitor kidney damage in the face of active viral replication and infection and to ultimately quantify tissue damage.
The study was funded by the NIH, National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Grant.