Sunday 9 May 2021

New method to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections


When patients complain of coughing, runny nose, sneezing and fever, doctors are often stumped because they have no fundamental tool to identify the source of the respiratory symptoms and guide appropriate treatments.


That tool might finally be on its way. In a study proving feasibility, researchers at Duke Health showed that their testing technology can accurately distinguish between a viral and a bacterial infection for respiratory illness - a critical difference that determines whether antibiotics are warranted. And, importantly, the test provided results in under an hour.


Researchers have developed a gene expression method that diverges from current diagnostic strategies, which focus on identifying specific pathogens. The current tests are time-consuming and can only identify a pathogen if it's specifically targeted by the test in the first place.


Host gene expression, however, looks for a distinct immune signal that is unique to the type of infection the body is fighting. The immune system activates one set of genes when fighting bacterial infections and a different set of genes in response to a viral infection. After the team discovered these gene expression signatures for bacterial and viral infection, they collaborated with BioFire Diagnostics, a company that specializes in molecular diagnostics, to develop this first-of-its kind test.




Ephraim L. Tsalik, et al. Discriminating Bacterial and Viral Infection Using a Rapid Host Gene Expression TestCritical Care Medicine, 2021; Publish Ahead of Print DOI: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000005085


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

1 comment:

  1. very useful tech hope such tech will be widely available in developing & under-developing countries too with affordable costs.


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