Research ArticleSepsis

Robust classification of bacterial and viral infections via integrated host gene expression diagnostics

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Science Translational Medicine  06 Jul 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 346, pp. 346ra91
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf7165

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Making a gene list, checking it twice

Sepsis, a severe inflammation caused by infection, is a common and deadly medical condition. Sepsis therapy combines supportive treatment with interventions directed at the underlying cause of the illness, especially antibiotics for bacterial infections. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to distinguish patients with noninfectious inflammation from those with bacterial and viral infections, and only those with bacterial sepsis derive any benefit from antibiotics. Sweeney et al. have previously analyzed large numbers of patients across many cohorts to derive a blood test identifying which patients with sepsis-like symptoms have an underlying infection. Now, the authors expanded their analysis to create an integrated score that not only identifies infected patients but also classifies their infection as bacterial or viral, suggesting appropriate treatment.