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Yale researchers are developing a faster, more accurate test for viral infections


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: January 10th, 2018

Researchers at Yale University are developing a way to quickly determine whether an infection is viral, potentially reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

The technology uses a simple nasal swab to measure Ribonucleic acid or protein molecules in human cells to accurately assess if respiratory symptoms are being caused by a viral infection. If successfully commercialized, the test could be a quicker, cheaper way to diagnose respiratory viral illnesses — and cut the use of antibiotics that are ineffective against viral bugs.

“There are so many viruses that cause respiratory symptoms, and it can be cumbersome to test for all of them,” says Ellen Foxman, professor of laboratory medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and co-inventor of the test. She says that the technology “helps out patients who are very sick and have a variety of health problems and it’s unclear why they’re having respiratory symptoms.”

The test also could help prevent the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics, which are often prescribed to treat viruses that have been mistaken for bacterial infections. “There’s a big problem with antibiotic overuse,” says Foxman. “Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them can be harmful, especially for kids.”

Foxman and co-inventor Marie Landry have applied for a patent on the test, with the goal of eventually distributing the technology as a widely used diagnostic tool. “The next step is to make something transportable that can be used in doctors’ offices,” Foxman says.

Source: ctpost

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