Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genomic Signature In Blood Identifies Underlying Viral Infection

Date:
August 10, 2009
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists have identified a genomic "signature" in circulating blood that reveals exposure to common upper respiratory viruses, like the cold or flu, even before symptoms appear. The tell-tale viral signature reflects a set of subtle but robust changes in genes that are activated as the body responds to infection.

Scientists have identified a genomic "signature" in circulating blood that reveals exposure to common upper respiratory viruses, like the cold or flu, even before symptoms appear.

Related Articles


The tell-tale viral signature reflects a set of subtle but robust changes in genes that are activated as the body responds to infection. The signal from the signature is strong enough in symptomatic individuals to clearly reveal whether their infection is viral or bacterial. It can also discriminate between who has a viral infection and who does not - all from a single tube of blood.

"This work is still in a relatively early phase of discovery, but we are optimistic that these findings may lead to a whole new way of diagnosing infectious disease," says Geoffrey Ginsburg, M.D., Ph.D., director of Duke University's Center for Genomic Medicine in the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy and the senior author of the study appearing in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Researchers say the discovery could lead to dramatic changes in the way doctors care for the millions of people who develop upper respiratory infections every year. Ginsburg says the symptoms of a cold, the flu or pneumonia can appear similar, but right now, doctors can't tell what the patient really has until laboratory tests are conducted, and that can take days.

"Until results are in, treatment is pretty much a best guess. Knowing exactly which pathogen is involved is important because it affects the urgency of response and the type of treatment," says Ginsburg. "This approach could lead to more precise, informed and tailored therapy – essentially, personalized care for infectious disease. That's better for the patient and better for public health, in general."

Christopher Woods, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Duke and the Chief of the Infectious Disease Section at the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center, says a quick test to determine the real cause of disease has other benefits, too. "It could mean more appropriate use of antibiotics. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of drug-resistant pathogens, and no one wants to see more of that."

The discovery is based upon the fact that the body's immune system starts responding very quickly and in a highly specific manner when exposed to a viral pathogen as opposed to a bacterial one. "A detailed reading of that response, using gene expression data, reveals what type of pathogen the person is reacting to," says Aimee Zaas, M.D., M.H.S., an infectious diseases physician at Duke and the lead author of the study.

Zaas and colleagues recruited 57 healthy volunteers who agreed to be inoculated with either a live cold virus (rhinovirus), the respiratory syncytial virus, or the influenza A virus. Researchers first took detailed baseline measures of genomic profiles in participants' blood, nasal fluid, breath and urine, and then inoculated the volunteers with one of the three viruses. They waited to see who became sick, and noted when symptoms first appeared, measuring markers of biological response at multiple time points after exposure. Volunteers were quarantined during the time they were infectious.

The research team studied changes in gene expression patterns in the participants' blood and identified 30 genes – many of which were already known to be active in the body's response to viral infections – whose expression patterns changed only among those who became symptomatic.

Investigators tested this "acute respiratory viral signature" in an independently acquired data set of gene expression patterns among people infected with influenza A and found that the signature was able to clearly distinguish with 100 percent accuracy between individuals who were infected and those who were not.

"We believe there will be multiple applications for this discovery," says Ginsburg. "This is simply the first step. Right now we are replicating our results in additional studies and also trying to validate these expression patterns in additional studies. We want to be careful and not draw any conclusions too quickly. Even though the signature we identified appears to be an excellent diagnostic, there may be other genes that can make it even better."

The researchers say the acute viral response signature may be applicable only to people who have healthy immune systems. "We would need to show that this approach also works in patients with underlying immune deficiencies before we could offer it as a potential diagnostic tool for everyone," says Zaas.

The study was funded by the Predicting Health and Disease Program of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Colleagues from Duke contributing to the study include Christopher Woods, Jay Varkey, Tim Veldman, Bradley Nicholson, Christine Oien, Brett Caram, Lawrence Carin, Minhua Chen and Joseph Lucas. Other co-authors are Alfred Hero and Yongsheng Huang, from the University of Michigan; Ronald Turner, from the University of Virginia; Anthony Gilbert and Robert Lambkin-Williams from Retroscreen Virology, Ltd.; and Stephen Kingsmore from the National Center for Genomic Resources.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "Genomic Signature In Blood Identifies Underlying Viral Infection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806121714.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2009, August 10). Genomic Signature In Blood Identifies Underlying Viral Infection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806121714.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "Genomic Signature In Blood Identifies Underlying Viral Infection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090806121714.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins