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Viral Infection Detection

January 4, 2018

A new test for viral infections promises cheaper and faster results.



A quick test for viruses. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Each year, over a half-billion cases of respiratory infections occur in the U.S. Some are caused by bacteria, and others by viruses, but the symp toms can be the same, making treatment difficult. Current tests that identify viral DNA are costly and slow. Yale researchers Ellen Foxman and Marie Landry describe a new solutio n in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. Foxman explains.

ELLEN FOXMAN (Yale University):

Instead of looking at viruses one by one, we simply ask the question “is the body responding to a viral infection?”


They looked at messenger RNA — an intermediate between genes and the products they encode—to see whether the body had turned on the genes for fighting viruses. Just knowing the infection’s not bacterial could help reduce the overuse of antibiotics that leads to drug-resistant superbugs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Matt Miller