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A new research found that a blood test based on a specific biomarker set may help predict an Ebola patient’s disease progression and possible survival chances.
It is a well-known fact that certain factors can improve a disease’s prognosis. And these are applicable for most diseases, Ebola included. The supportive hospital care is one such factor. Another is the illness’s viral load. More exactly, if is it higher or lower.
Still, as the Ebola outbreak went to show, these are not always accurate. These factors alone could not predict a person’s survival chances.
In between 2014 and 2016, Western Africa was confronted with an Ebola outbreak. The Republic of Guinea was its epicenter. Almost 60 percent of those infected died. The total death toll was of over 11,000 people.
Researchers went to study these results. And made a potential breakthrough. A team of scientists discovered a biomarker. Through a blood test, this could help them determine the following. How likely a person is to survive an Ebola infection. Or, in contrast, to succumb to it.
The research team was an international collaboration. Boston University and Public Health England scientists were involved. Their study results were released earlier this week.
A paper was published in the Genome Biology paper. It was released on January 19 and titled as follows. “Transcriptomic signatures differentiate survival from fatal outcomes in humans infected with Ebola virus”.
Research found a specific biomarker. This was seen to help predict the disease’s outcome. More exactly, it worked as follows. A certain handful of genes were seen to over-activate. This effect was noted in patients that were ultimately taken by the disease.
Research on the matter is still in a somewhat preliminary stage. Still, this specific blood test may come to help. According to the researchers, their study suggested a fact. A person’s response to the Ebola infection may affect their survival chances.
This is according to one of the study’s corresponding authors, John Connor. He is a Boston University National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories Associate Professor of Microbiology.
Connor pointed out the following. This is the largest research of its type. Through this blood test, scientists may get a sense of who could survive an Ebola infection. And this could be determined quite early on.
The biomarker discovery belongs to a team of English scientists. They were analyzing Ebola victims blood samples. Wealthy data has been preserved from the outbreak. This includes mRNA measurements. More exactly, this latter is a good gene activity indicator.
Research led to the following discovery. The Ebola victims’ mRNA corresponded to a certain set of genes. These latter are part of the immune response. Connors and his team had already studied the respective genes, in monkeys. So the English researchers contacted the American ones.
10 genes were noted to be quite efficient biomarkers. These were all activated in patients who died following the Ebola infection. And the scientists also looked for the biomarkers in unrelated blood samples.
Their blood test was quite accurate. Its prediction rate was 70 percent accurate. More exactly, in 70 percent of the cases, the blood test correctly determined the patient’s fate.
The current test only involved the Ebola Makona strain. But the researchers are quite confident. They believe that other virus strains could reveal the same biomarkers. Or at least similar ones.
As it is, this study offered more insight into the disease’s effects. The aforementioned Connors also pointed out the following. The used blood samples may not give a full immune response picture. They were taken in the beginning and late stages of the disease.
Still, a patient’s immune response could have an effect on their survival chances. The current study offers an important piece of information. But according to Connors, it doesn’t solve the whole puzzle. So more research will most likely be needed.
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