Scientists identify biomarkers in mucous that verify viral infection from cold or flu.
Duke Health scientists have identified a group of proteins that, when detected in specific quantities in the mucous, are 86 percent accurate in confirming the infection is from a cold or flu virus, according to a small, proof-of-concept trial published online in the journal EBioMedicine.
The researchers hope their initial work identifying the protein signature could aid the development of a quick, noninvasive doctor’s office test to determine the cause of upper respiratory illness and appropriate treatment.
Widespread use of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections don’t benefit patients with viral illness and can contribute to antibiotic-resistant superbugs, Ginsburg said. More precise diagnoses of these infections could be another tool to curb the development of superbugs, he said.
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For the trial, researchers infected 88 healthy adult volunteers with a common strain of cold or flu virus.
Some participants didn’t get sick. Among those who developed infections, researchers found a distinct set of 25 proteins in fluid samples they gathered by flushing about 2 teaspoons of saline through the participant’s nasal passages.