According to researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, a new quick blood test can determine if an infection is bacterial of viral. This new study will help reduce the risk of overusing antibiotics. Health researchers say the use of antibiotics is not only unnecessary when it comes to viral infections, but eventually dangerous for humans.
Family physicians believe this new blood test could be very beneficial for patients and researchers since 2 million illnesses, and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year in the United States. What’s more, over 50 percent of antibiotic prescription are useless according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Senior author Dr.Purvesh Khatri says that doctors have to perform 12 different tests when they are searching for 12 different viruses. Khatri, who is an assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine told FoxNews, the 12 tests are time-consuming and very expensive.
Sweeney, who is an engineering research associate at the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection noted that when ill patient’s people come to the clinics, bacteria or a bacterial or a viral infection often looks the same.
“Many diagnostics focus on trying to find bacteria in the bloodstream, but most infected people don’t have bloodstream infections, meaning such tests aren’t helpful,” Sweeney told AFP.
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Seven human genes help to determine whether an infection is viral or bacterial
The blood test works by observing seven human genes whose activity changes during infection creates a pattern that can differentiate between a bacterial or viral infection. To get gene expressions, researchers use the information that the body extracts from a particular gene to use it to direct protein formation that responds to external agents.
The participants for the diagnostic test were 96 children critically ill. 98.5 percent of the diagnosis were accurate using the new blood test. Dr. Khatri was very surprised when he found out how accurate the results were.
The study began with previous research that analyzed the interaction of a typical immune reaction in the blood to viral infection. This study found out the different reactions between bacterial and viral infections; therefore, students and researchers wondered whether the findings of the last research, which explains the differences between bacterial and viral results, could help to determinate a viral or bacterial infections on patients.
The new blood test needs four to six hours to get the final results. Researchers say that this time is too long when there are critically ill patients in hospitals. However, they hope that the diagnostic test can last less than an hour once it is be incorporated into a machine that could reduce the time the test take to get the final results.
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Researchers explain that they could pair their seven-gene test with an existing 11-gene test, and reduced the turnaround time. This will reveal if the patient has an infection. Then, the results of 18-gene combination test will determine whether the patient has a viral or bacterial infection.
Before the new diagnostic test is launched in the market, it must undergo trials in clinical settings. A big part of the study has been focused on pre- online digital data that has gene expresions from different patients.
The new test may not only be accurate but also cheap
Although the price for getting tested with this new diagnostic test has not been released yet, Dr. Khatri says the team’s goal is to get a cost that can be similar or less than antibiotics. This would encourage physicians to use the new test over writing prescriptions.
According to Khatri, getting antibiotics is not expensive especially in developing countries. He also pointed out that this test will result in cost saving, in the health research, for the long run, and will help reduce time money boundaries for doctors. This is important taking into account that a review of antimicrobial resistance in 2014 revealed that if the evolution of superbugs is not stopped right now, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria might have cost to the world $ 100 trillion by 2050.
This is important taking into account that a review of antimicrobial resistance in 2014 revealed that if the evolution of superbugs is not stopped right now, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria might have cost to the world $ 100 trillion by 2050.
“Any suspicion [of a bacterial infection] will get you an antibiotic, a fever will get you [an antibiotic] … [the test] would be cheap enough that it would be cost neutral.” said Khatri.
The new study is one of the last research Stanford Medicine school are developing regarding precision in health. Their aim is to prevent diseases or advanced illnesses by precisely diagnose them.
Source: Fox News