Menu

A Blood Test To Determine When Antibiotics Are Warranted

Scientists can assay gene activity to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections.

Jul 7, 2016
Alison F. Takemura

Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus being ingested by neutrophilNIHScientists can distinguish between a viral and a bacterial infection by assaying just seven human genes, according to a study published this week (July 6) in Science Translational Medicine. A clinical test based on these findings would enable doctors to more appropriately prescribe antibiotics, which are ineffective against viruses.

This May, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that doctors prescribe antibiotics when they’re not needed in around 30 percent of cases examined. Overuse of these drugs may promote more widespread antibiotic resistance.

To address the problem, scientists at Stanford University looked at more than 1,000 patient blood samples to identify gene activation signatures associated with either bacterial or viral infections.

The researchers found they could distinguish these two classes of infections by analyzing the expression of seven genes alone. “The notion that there are just seven targets with really excellent accuracy was pretty shocking,” study coauthor Tim Sweeney told Time. The team was then able to validate this seven-gene assay with blood collected from 96 children with sepsis.

“Our test can very reliably rule out bacterial infection,” study coauthor Purvesh Khatri wrote in an email to The Scientist.

For example, if the prevalence of bacterial infection is 15 percent in a community, and 100 patients are tested, if they all test negative, then the test is almost totally accurate: 98 patients truly won’t have a bacterial infection, according to the team’s analysis.

The researchers are working to improve the approach so that it can be applied in the clinic.

“A lot of people said we need a test like this, and we hope our test, or one like it, will help to reduce the crazy overuse of antibiotics that is threatening not just medicine but whole parts of our society based on our inability to treat certain infections,” Sweeney told Time.

Sweeney and Khatri told The Scientist that the test could be particularly useful during the early stages of an infection—prior to life-threatening sepsis—when antibiotics can be safely avoided.

 

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress, a Folsom, California based leading supplier of human biospecimens, announces the release of frozen Peripheral Blood Leukopaks. Leukopaks provide an enriched source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with low granulocyte and red blood cells that can be used in a variety of downstream cell-based applications.

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

Vector Laboratories, a leader in the development and manufacture of labeling and detection reagents for biomedical research, introduces VECTASHIELD® Vibrance™ – antifade mounting media that delivers significant improvements to the immunofluorescence workflow.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.