Four blood biomarkers could help doctors decide whether the source of a patient’s systemic inflammation is viral or non-viral in nature. The research – which was published in the journal, Scientific Reports – was funded by the molecular diagnostics company Immunexpress.
Systemic inflammation can be difficult to diagnose because patients often present with a number of symptoms – including increased heart rate and fever – that are common to other conditions. Complicating matters is the fact that each viral strain has its own transcriptional signature, making it difficult to discover biomarkers that would be indicative of any general viral infection.
“While current diagnostic methods have improved the capacity to differentiate causes of systemic inflammation, limitations still exist and point to the need for alternative approaches,” said Dr. Richard Brandon, chief scientific officer of Immunexpress. “Our investigation of biomarker studies indicates that the four-gene signature may aid clinicians in differentiating systemic inflammation due to viral infection, which in critically ill patients may require immediate treatment and initiation of appropriate management procedures.”
The researchers analyzed 44 publicly-available datasets and conducted two clinical studies of their own in their research on blood biomarkers of system inflammation. They identified and validated a four-gene expression biomarker consisting of the Interferon Stimulated Gene (15) (ISG15), Interleukin 16 (IL16), 2’5′-Oligoadenylate Synthetase Like (OASL), and Adhesion G Protein Coupled Receptor E5 (ADGRE5).
In multiple human and animal studies, the researchers found that the biomarkers were able to reliably discriminate between viral and non-viral sources of systemic inflammation. The newly-identified viral biomarkers could help clinicians reliably determine whether the source of inflammation is due to viral or bacterial infection.
Immunexpress is the developer of an FDA-approved assay to identify the host response to pathogenic infection and diagnosis sepsis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 80 percent of sepsis symptoms and pathology occurs outside of the hospital for 80 percent of patients. This makes rapid diagnosis and initiation of treatment important in patients suspected of being septic.