Novel diagnostic method for aspergillus Infection
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a major cause of critical illness in immunocompromised patients. IA is caused by Aspergillus, a type of fungal mold, and it usually affects the host’s pulmonary structure. While most strains of Aspergillus only cause minor allergic reactions, immunocompromised people, specifically oncological patients and organ recipients, are at a high risk of serious illness. While IA has improved treatment owing to better tolerated antifungal agents, the diagnosis of the disease is still a shortcoming. Currently, the most definitive way to diagnose pulmonary IA is by histopathological analysis of lung tissue obtained through biopsy. However, this is often complicated due to comorbid patient risk factors. While other methods, such as cultures from blood or serum and molecular biology are available, they do not provide sufficient speed, specificity, or sensitivity. Therefore, developing new fast, efficient, and safe diagnostic methods to detect pulmonary IA is of critical need.
Duke researchers have identified a novel transcriptomic signature of Aspergillus infection. Evaluation of host-derived biomarkers as potential diagnostic aids has been an increasingly prominent diagnostic method. Transcriptomic approaches that capture pathogen-specific host response information have not only proven to be helpful in differentiating infected versus non-infected hosts but also discriminating between bacterial and viral pathogens. However, so far little has been known about how such approaches perform in the setting of fungal infections. The Duke group has examined the host gene expression responses during IA and developed a peripheral blood RNA-based signature of aspergillosis that discriminates between infected and uninfected animals. This signature can serve as a novel host-based diagnostic tool for the detection of IA in human patients.
- New robust diagnostic method for Aspergillus infections that is specific and non-invasive.
- Can diagnose early infections.
- Can detect the presence of the pathogen in asymptomatic patients and thus aid in preventing the infection spread.