People suffering from respiratory infection are often prescribed antibiotic because there is no accurate way to determine whether the illness is caused by infection from a virus or bacteria.
Scientists in US are fine-tuning a blood test that will not only detect if an infection is viral or bacterial but also help medical practitioners to decide whether a patient really needs an antibiotic.
This breakthrough will help reduce the risk of antibiotic over-prescription.
Antibiotics are considered to be one of the major advances in medicine and used to treat bacterial infection but its excessive use could trigger unwanted side effects and can make a person antibiotic resistance.
The test developed by Ephraim L. Tsalik and colleagues at the Duke University North Carolina looked at gene expression changes in the blood of large number of patients to determine their cause of illness and achieved 87 per cent accuracy.
The technique is more accurate than other tests, reported Duke Medicine website.
The test method developed by the team could take as long as ten hours and they are now working to reduce it to one hour so that it could be easily used in clinics.
The same team had previously identified gene signatures associated with viral infections, but this is for the first time they have distinguished non-infectious illnesses and viral from bacterial infections at the patient’s molecular level.