The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines a biomarker as, “a characteristic that is objectively measured and evaluated as an indication of normal biologic processes, pathogenic processes, or pharmacologic responses to a therapeutic intervention.” Many researchers rely on biomarkers to help them understand the ways in which cells act, based on the protein markers found on the cell surface.
Human blood offers a rich mine of information for researchers studying disease origins and treatment possibilities. The human body contains about five liters of blood, representing roughly seven percent of overall body weight for an average-sized individual. Blood performs many critical functions, including supplying oxygen to tissues via erythrocytes; removal of wastes; and immune system disease-protection via leukocytes, most specifically lymphocytes and monocytes. Many disease research protocols require dilution of whole blood, often for subsequent purification of blood components. Let's look at a few procedures researchers have developed for investigating disease using dilute whole blood:Read More
The most common method for separating and PBMC isolation (peripheral blood mononuclear cells) - most specifically lymphocytes and monocytes - is a method known as Ficoll or Ficoll-Paque. This density gradient medium was developed by GE Healthcare based on the principle of differential migration of blood cells through the media during the centrifugation stage of the procedure.Read More
Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) are derived from whole blood and are commonly used biospecimens for immunology and cancer research. PBMCs are used because they are comprised primarily of lymphocytes and monocytes. Lymphocytes are made up of T and B cells, as well as NK cells. Each of these cells play a critical role in defending the body as a part of the immune system's defense mechanism. T cells are in charge of cellular immunity functions. B cells interact with antibodies and help confer what is known as antibody-mediated immunity. NK (natural killer) cells prowl the body looking for antigens with abnormal cell membranes, such as cancer cells. When an NK cell encounters these 'enemy cells', it releases a protein that attacks the abnormal cell's membrane. Lymphocytes make up over 25 percent of all white blood cells (WBCs) and are probably the most important cells in the human body's immune system. Monocytes are also key to a healthy immune system via their role in surrounding foreign particles that enter the body. This process is known as phagocytosis.Read More
We are born with a supply of bone marrow in the center of our large bones. This soft and spongy tissue is critical to the development of the immune system, as well as the source of new blood cells. At birth, all bone marrow is red, and consists primarily of hematopoietic tissue, key to the production of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets. Bone marrow stroma contains a number of other cells, including mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which have been found to be extremely valuable in disease research. Many cell progenitors are also found in bone marrow and are useful in helping researchers understand the root causes of blood and autoimmune diseases. Adult bone marrow stem cells are now also used in actual patient treatments for a variety of serious diseases.Read More