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IISc biomarkers can differentiate bacterial and viral infections, including Covid | India News


Bangalore: The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) said on Monday that a study has identified a set of molecular biomarkers that can be used in the differential diagnosis of acute bacterial and viral infections, including Covid-19.
These biomarkers are different messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules found in the blood; The differences in their levels allow to detect and predict with high probability whether an infection is viral or bacterial.
“Covid-19 is a grim testament to the damage that an infectious disease can cause to human health and well-being. A major challenge in treating such diseases is misdiagnosis, which can lead to trial and error treatments and inappropriate use of antibiotics, ”IISc said in a statement.
The human body responds to bacterial and viral infections differently, by producing different types of molecules in the blood, depending on the type of infection. While antibiotics can treat bacterial infections, they are ineffective against viral infections.
However, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics to treat any type of infection has resulted in bacterial strains that are now resistant to our entire arsenal of antibiotics.
“Antibiotics are even given for viral infections in some cases due to misdiagnosis. With current methods, it can take a long time to test for bacterial or viral infections, ”explains Sathyabaarathi Ravichandran, first author of the study and associate researcher in the laboratory led by Nagasuma Chandra, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry.
In the new study, published in EBioMedicine, researchers have developed a test that uses blood transcriptomes from patients and sophisticated computer models. A transcriptome is a complete set of mRNA molecules expressed by a biological cell, which is measured by next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies.
“During an infection, there are specific genes that are turned on and these, in turn, lead to higher amounts of specific mRNAs and ultimately higher amounts of the corresponding proteins. Scientists analyzed transcriptomic patient data from publicly available databases and samples collected from MS Ramaiah Medical College in collaboration with a clinical team and discovered a ten-gene RNA signature in the blood of patients that is produced in varying amounts for infections. viral and bacterial. “IISc said.
The researchers came up with an independent score called VB10, which could be used for diagnosis, monitoring the stage of recovery after infection, and estimating the severity of the infection. VB10 accurately indicated whether a given blood sample had a bacterial or viral infection, in different bacteria and viruses, and in different age groups.
The authors suggest that the test could also be helpful in differentiating Covid-19 infection from bacterial infections. In the study, they analyzed several viral infections for which transcriptomic data is publicly available. This allowed them to develop a generic VB10 test score for viral infections.
“As soon as the transcriptomic data was available for Covid-19, the team tested their approach and found that test scores could differentiate between SARS-CoV-2 infection and common bacterial respiratory infections. This work was done in collaboration with physicians from MS Ramaiah Medical College and researchers Amit Singh, Dipshikha Chakravortty and KN Balaji at IISc, ”the statement read.
The team hopes to begin a trial study to move their research from the lab to the clinic. “This test can be done using qRT-PCR. Given how common RT-PCR has become due to the pandemic, getting this test off the ground shouldn’t be a major challenge, ”says Chandra. The researchers hope that it will be useful early in the infection and that it will work against any strain. This can complement current COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

Times of India