Runny nose, cough, fever: The patients show up in the clinic with these typical symptoms of respiratory infections every day. But is the culprit bacteria that can be attacked with antibiotics, or viruses that are more difficult to treat with drugs? Usually doctors can’t be sure. But the researchers said they are approaching an accurate test that can quickly make a phone call right in the doctor’s office.
Faced with unknown infections, doctors sometimes request laboratory tests for common bacteria, such as StreptococcusOr they might try antibiotics right away and make this decision based solely on the intensity of symptoms-but overuse of antibiotics can lead to dangerous strains of resistant bacteria. Ephraim Tsalik, an infectious disease expert at Duke University, said: “When it can be quickly distinguished, we can ensure that antibiotics are not used improperly.” In 2016, he and his colleagues developed a laboratory test to compare common respiratory symptoms with Viruses, bacteria or non-infectious origins are linked. It is effective because each pathogen activates a different set of genes, thereby altering their RNA or protein production, and the test can find these obvious “gene expression” characteristics in small blood samples.
The team recently worked with a company called BioFire to speed up this test to produce results within an hour.The new process tested more than 600 emergency room patients for research exist Critical Care Medicine, Identify bacterial infections with an accuracy of 80%, and virus infections with an accuracy of nearly 87%. A common laboratory test evaluated by Tsalik has an accuracy rate of approximately 69%. Others require time-consuming cultures or can only confirm specific pathogens that the doctor decides to test.
Purvesh Khatri, a computational immunologist at Stanford University, said that the technology for examining the response of genes to pathogens in a rapid and comprehensive manner has just been developed, and he was not involved in this research. Amplification of RNA by PCR-based methods, which is a critical analysis step, can now be completed in 15 to 20 minutes. Khatri co-founded Inflammatix, the company will soon release its own rapid test, “to determine if there is an infection and what [pathogen] May cause it and provide information about the severity. “
Gregory Storch, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Washington University in St. Louis, said that tools to help limit the overuse of antibiotics for respiratory infections “may have a huge impact on curbing the rise in antibiotic resistance,” and he was not involved in the study. Although people from different populations and with certain pre-existing conditions may exhibit different gene expression patterns, Storch hopes that future work can explain these differences to ensure that everyone can obtain reliable results.