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Test Can Tell If You Need Antibiotics For Cold

Update Date: Jan 22, 2016 01:22 PM EST

A new test that claims to pinpoint the origins of germs causing respiratory diseases could restrict growing resistance to antibiotics.

According to UPI, test developed by Duke University researchers can tell if whether an infection is bacterial or viral. This is possible by seeing gene expressions of the body, which differ depending on nature of the germ. In their study to determine the accuracy of test, the researchers found it was 87 percent accurate.

"Despite improvements in pathogen-based diagnostics, most patients receive inappropriate antibiotics. Host response biomarkers offer an alternative diagnostic approach to direct antimicrobial use," researchers wrote in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

To arrive at their findings, researchers first developed gene profiles using samples from 10 people with bacterial pneumonia and 21 with viral flu, VOA reports. They then tested samples of 273 sick people and compared with gene profiles. They also had control samples from 44 healthy adults. The exercise showed that gene profiles could be more accurate than the procalcitonin test, used to determine the extent of bacterial infections.

"Antibiotics treat bacteria, but they do not treat viruses. That's why distinguishing between these various causes of illness is very important to get the right treatment to the right patient, and to offer a prognosis for how the patient is likely to do," Tsalik said.

Gene profiling takes a day but if the process can be made faster, it can help curb the practise of wanton antibiotic prescriptions.

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