Identify diseases in blood samples before onset

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With blood tests to track the diseases before the outbreak

Many signs of disease can be quickly identified in the patient's blood count. A pilot project by the University of Würzburg and the Bavarian Blood Donation Service aims to elicit additional diagnostic options from the blood in research. The institutions have entered into a cooperation. Certain markers can be recognized in the blood even before the onset of a disease.

Make diseases recognizable before the outbreak
Many diseases can already be discovered in the blood today. Doctors and scientists agree: the blood picture has many more secrets and could be used better in the future for early diagnosis. The future visionaries of the University of Würzburg and the blood donation service of the Bavarian Red Cross (BRK) have therefore decided to work together to make diseases visible in the future before the actual outbreak. The university hospital will soon be able to access around three million plasma samples from the BRK blood donation service for research purposes. A corresponding agreement was ceremoniously signed by both sides on Monday.

Blood samples are compared
Scientists at the University of Würzburg will be the first German university to compare older blood donations from patients before an illness broke out in the test subjects. Then the donations are compared to the samples after the outbreak. This enables researchers to compare and evaluate the blood values ​​of diseased donors before and after the onset of an illness.

Opportunity for early diagnosis and cancer therapy
"This is a unique opportunity for science," explained the head of the Center for Biomaterials and Databases at the University Hospital Würzburg, Dr. Roland Jahns. The first signs of heart disease can be found, for example, in the blood serum of patients who later develop heart failure (heart failure). Before the pathological inability of the heart to transport the required amount of blood to the auricles without increasing pressure is developed, so-called peptide molecules are shown in the blood picture. These become visible before the affected person notices the first symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, poor performance or water in the legs. Biomarkers also play an important role in the treatment of cancer. In this way, biomarkers can help “individually design cancer therapy for many patients,” explains Professor Jahns. The Würzburg doctors want to research these and other biomarkers more intensively. Thus, "we have the chance to discover previously unknown biomarkers", explain the scientists. The biobanks are a “seemingly inexhaustible treasure” for health research, says the renowned heart specialist.

Numerous donors agreed to be released
The biodata database of the Bavarian blood donation service has been in existence since 2006. With the consent of the blood donors, the experts have stored two milliliters of blood per donation for more than five years in order to make it available to science, among other things. In advance, every third blood donor had given their consent to the storage. According to the BRK, the world's largest bio database for blood samples was created.

Since the summer of last year (2011) one of five German biomaterials and databases has been set up at the Würzburg site. New tissue and fluid samples from patients are collected at the centers. The remaining four bio-databases are located in Berlin, Kiel, Aachen and Heidelberg. However, only the University Hospital Würzburg works together with a bluse database. (sb)

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Image: Rainer Sturm /

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