The blood Code: What it reveals diseases that we have not yet even

Red rivulets formed on the cheeks and on the bridge of the nose of the nearly 30-year-old man. Schlieren-like the liquid mixed with the sweat on his neck, dripping on his white shirt, the dark jacket, the tie and the manuscript.

It was a scandal and a provocation, as the Munich-based writer Rainald Goetz 1983 aufritzte at the annual literature competition in Klagenfurt with a blade to the forehead and covered in blood weiterlas. The television cameras stayed on the air. In the case of millions of people, the images dug into the memory.

“With my blood is to me leak my brain,” las Goetz, while he put the first cuts. His Text is expressed, among other things, the repugnance to the shallowness of the culture operation. Medically, the self-injury had no impact at all. The blood clotted, stopped bleeding, and in 2015, Goetz won the Georg-Büchner-Preis, the most important literary award in the German-speaking countries.

A very special juice

The popularity of detective stories, and bloody fairing on the occasion of the recently past Halloween night, the Holy communion and Goetz’ action underline what Goethe put his Mephistopheles in “Faust” in the mouth: blood is a special juice – if we are him. Otherwise, the five to six liters of which circulate constantly through the human body periods, a rather lackluster existence. The heart beats, the brain thinks, Yes even the gut has charm. The blood but we usually notice only when we make, for example, a head and in the ears rushes.

It is the transport medium par excellence. The Suspension, like the supposed liquid is due to their high solid material proportion correct, which brings oxygen and other gases, sugar, hormones, fats, vitamins and, even more, in the most distant regions of the body. In doing so, you will pick up a portion of the waste, urea. And because the blood contains all the that everywhere goes, and so nearly all processes in the organism is exposed to, it is the indicator of number one, the most comprehensive indicator of physiological changes. The possibilities of the blood analysis were not yet exhausted, promise, researchers. By Tracking tiny particles, the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Diabetes, and is to come.

New ways of early detection

New blood tests to look further and further into the future. One of the first to have been in Germany ready for the market, triggered a fierce debate in society . In the blood of pregnant women can detect whether the Unborn child has a trisomy 21, i.e. Down’s syndrome for the world is to come. That certainty is, as yet, only an amniocentesis.

Politicians and churches have been arguing whether the health insurance will actually be required to pay for the blood test. That would happen that would put the appreciation for the disabled, down, and my critics. In the development of pregnancy, blood tests for genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in which the scientist Stephen Hawking suffered.

Investor Bill Gates, whose Foundation plans to open a Studio in Berlin, for innovations in blood tests. In the magazine “Wired” in praise of the Microsoft billionaire, the researchers Stephen Quake. The Professor of Bio-engineering Sciences, and his Team at Stanford University have developed in the past years, significant blood diagnosis.

A about facilitated transplant patient’s life. Whether a donor organ may be rejected, with a Test of Quakes laboratory check. So far, painful biopsies were required. And in a groundbreaking study that came out in June, the Team was able, through the blood of an impending premature birth samples to detect.

Also in the field of cancer medicine, blood analyses are playing an increasingly important role. So-called liquid biopsies, in which the genetic material is examined, the Tumor diffuses into the blood, allow a personalized treatment. The genetic fingerprint of the cancer cells gives information about the most effective treatment. The amount of the tumor genome reveals whether a therapy is working. And in the future, the researchers hope, will announce regular blood analyses, the recurrence of suffering in a timely manner.

The recent successes of votes of those experts are optimistic, the blood in the early detection of cancer. From the blood-derived markers, it is hoped, will discover a latent disease so early that they can be effectively treated. The company Guardant and the Grail, both based in California, working hard. The Gates Foundation supports them.

The Basis of the red blood cells form

The laboratory is, of course, already today, so indispensable as they are diverse. Of the house doctor’s practice in the problem quarter to the genetic engineering researchers can physicians every day, hundreds of thousands of blood samples to investigate. They contain information that can help to Refine the diagnosis or to monitor the health development.

For nearly 40 percent of all insured persons in Germany annually, the laboratory investigations are carried out, not only from blood but also from saliva, tissue, stool and urine. However, blood analyses are the most common, because Doctors from any other body substance, so clear out what is good and what is bad in the organism.

“We can determine in the blood today, more than 1000 biomarkers to clarify a diagnosis,” explains Joachim Thiery, Director of the Institute for laboratory medicine, Clinical chemistry and Molecular diagnostics, University hospital Leipzig.

In a well-defined single-step and once-great sense of Thiery and his colleagues to bring more and more Details about a disease. The starting point of any analysis of blood close to 30 biomarkers, i.e., measurable parameters. You give, Thiery, a “first orientation”.

To include base values for the main constituents, the red blood cells that carry oxygen, the platelets that stop blood clotting, bleeding, and the white blood cells that constantly patrol through the organism to the pathogen track down, or to destroy threatening cells. Alone, these leukocytes in 15 sub-species divide. Eosinophils from granulocytes, about to fight back parasites, killer T cells rush to tumors.

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What values are important?

The “Check-up 35” every two years, at the expense of the statutory health insurance funds, allowed for investigation, includes only two blood values, cholesterol and blood sugar, whistleblower on the elasticity of the vessels respectively, on the metabolism. Many Doctors advise to keep at least the first three or four decades of Life more key figures in the eye. Larger blood pictures are, if there is no concrete suspicion, but neither cheap nor without controversy.

The IGeL-Monitor, a health insurance close to the experts, to the so-called individual health services, it keeps some extra test in symptom-free adults to be unnecessary. The HbA1c Test for Diabetes, do not take more than the blood sugar measurement. And the determination of the hormone TSH do not say clearly enough whether the thyroid is now OK or not.

You must protect patients from blood tests? Thomas Kurscheid, a specialist for General and sports medicine in Cologne and book author (“Your body lies to you”, southwestern publishing company), writes: “When you advise you accordingly, most people know very well what it means a blood value and whether it makes sense to you.”

Kurscheid: “I’m health-conscious patient, the two years of your blood with me to check.” For 200 to 250 Euro can be legally Insured in the case of the doctor, among other things, to the inflammatory parameters such as C-reactive Protein and also other blood values, such as triglycerides and Lipoprotein A fat test.

Also, the Status of some vitamins and minerals is one of such programs. Joerg Schelling, a General practitioner in Munich, says that there are people with well-being helps disorders, if you know about your levels of Vitamin B12, zinc and selenium. “Feels like someone is constantly tired and limp, a cold, or mild circulatory problems, rate I to a more advanced blood test.”

The debate about Vitamin-D

An example of the fine line between switching horses and of modern preventive medicine, the debate about Vitamin D. Many Doctors of the old school react annoyed at the cries of Alarm, especially for dietary Supplement manufacturers to advertise their product. Every second German way, a risky Vitamin D deficit, it says.

The Federal Institute for risk assessment in Berlin admits that the Germans in the Vitamin D, on average, reach only about half of the reference value. Reference values specify the range in which the values of healthy people. And from science a further recommendation comes just: One should expose just now, in the dark Season of the year, more of the sun and, under certain circumstances, also appropriate preparations to swallow.

By comparing different health values of almost 2000 subjects, discovered by doctors in the United States a connection between the Vitamin D Status in the blood and the amount of oxygen the body is able to absorb under load (measured in the so-called VO2max Test). The better the experiment, participants were supplied with the substance, the more did the heart and lungs. Is published the study in the “European Journal of Preventive Cardiology”.

People want to know, also their nutritional status via blood. The Omega-3 Index is a measure of the ratio of different fatty acids in the blood. On the Internet it costs 68 euros, at the doctor’s additional fees can be added; some private health insurance companies reimburse him.

Also an Alzheimer’s early detection research

Sporty and Active are a special case. Who spent often, may have little blood sugar and fats, as well as “a higher volume of blood, almost like in an East African runners after altitude training,” says Martin hall, head of the center for prevention and sports medicine at the technical University of Munich. Other values, of course, pins slightly in confusion. The enzyme creatine kinase (CK), which is also considered as an alarming indication of a damage to the heart muscle, can be increased after intensive training, at least in the short term.

On more and more areas of medicine, the truth lies in the blood. Just now, German researchers from the Potsdam-Rehbrücke presented a Diabetes Test. A binding protein with the symbol IGFBP2 years before the onset of the Disease information about the risk of developing the metabolic disorder.

Also Alzheimer’s dementia is not only by shooting in positron emission tomography (PET) and brain water apparent. Japanese and Australian researchers showed in February in the journal “Nature”, as you Test for typical Alzheimer’s demonstrates changes in the blood.

Young blood the fountain of youth

Other scientists do not want to develop by blood is the first therapy against Alzheimer’s disease, which relieves only the symptoms. First of all, researchers at Stanford University conducted experiments with mice in which they connected the blood vessels of old and young animals to a bloodstream. The uncanny Trick, Parabiosis called, had the desired effect. The older mice benefited significantly from the refresher. Her memory improved.

Further studies showed that transfusions and the administration of the blood plasma also have a positive effect. The evidence in humans is uncertain. As researchers at the US-based company, Alkahest 18 patients suffering from incipient Alzheimer’s, supplied with the Plasma of 18 – to 30-year-old men, improved your memory.

Meanwhile, the scientists know the proportion of young plasma, seems to work. The “improved formula” to be free of substances, which caused an immune response, says Alkahest staff Joe McCracken. In mice, the positive effect increased. Now the researchers are testing the substance in humans. Ten of US will be recruited clinics, 40 people with Alzheimer’s symptoms between the ages of 60 and 90 years. The volunteers get three months to ten infusions.

Young blood the elixir of life, since the Dracula Legend in our culture, historical memory is anchored. The well-known narrative could get, in reality, a continuation.