A new rapid test can identify any infection from any type of bodily fluid in as few as six hours, possibly changing the way diseases are diagnosed and treated, according to a study published November 9 in Nature Medicine.
Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco developed the test, which requires no special handling or processing for each specific bodily fluid and uses next-generation DNA sequencing technology. It accounts for all DNA in a single sample. The test uses a new analytical software application to compare DNA sequences in the sample to genomic databases that cover all bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infections from any species.
The researchers analyzed 180 samples from in and around the lungs, the peritoneal cavity, pus-filled abscesses, the spinal cord, joints, and other sites such as tonsillar fluid and eye fluid from 160 seriously ill patients and then compared the results to gold-standard culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, according to the study.
The researchers diagnosed 79% of bacterial and 91% of fungal infections using Illumina sequencing technology, and 75% of bacterial and 91% of fungal infections were diagnosed using Oxford Nanopore sequencing. The test also diagnosed infections in seven of 12 patients whose illnesses had remained undiagnosed after standard culturing or PCR-based DNA testing, according to the findings.
The test may be a lifesaver for seriously ill patients since it will allow clinicians to speed up appropriate drug treatments, the authors wrote.