Host gene expression classifiers diagnose acute respiratory illness etiology.
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Acute respiratory infections caused by bacterial or viral pathogens are among the most common reasons for seeking medical care. Despite improvements in pathogen-based diagnostics, most patients receive inappropriate antibiotics. Host response biomarkers offer an alternative diagnostic approach to direct antimicrobial use. This observational cohort study determined whether host gene expression patterns discriminate noninfectious from infectious illness and bacterial from viral causes of acute respiratory infection in the acute care setting. Peripheral whole blood gene expression from 273 subjects with community-onset acute respiratory infection (ARI) or noninfectious illness, as well as 44 healthy controls, was measured using microarrays. Sparse logistic regression was used to develop classifiers for bacterial ARI (71 probes), viral ARI (33 probes), or a noninfectious cause of illness (26 probes). Overall accuracy was 87% (238 of 273 concordant with clinical adjudication), which was more accurate than procalcitonin (78%, P < 0.03) and three published classifiers of bacterial versus viral infection (78 to 83%). The classifiers developed here externally validated in five publicly available data sets (AUC, 0.90 to 0.99). A sixth publicly available data set included 25 patients with co-identification of bacterial and viral pathogens. Applying the ARI classifiers defined four distinct groups: a host response to bacterial ARI, viral ARI, coinfection, and neither a bacterial nor a viral response. These findings create an opportunity to develop and use host gene expression classifiers as diagnostic platforms to combat inappropriate antibiotic use and emerging antibiotic resistance.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Tsalik, Ephraim L, Ricardo Henao, Marshall Nichols, Thomas Burke, Emily R Ko, Micah T McClain, Lori L Hudson, Anna Mazur, et al. (2016). Host gene expression classifiers diagnose acute respiratory illness etiology. Sci Transl Med, 8(322). p. 322ra11. 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad6873 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12536.
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My research at Duke has focused on understanding the dynamic between host and pathogen so as to discover and develop host-response markers that can diagnose and predict health and disease. This new and evolving approach to diagnosing illness has the potential to significantly impact individual as well as public health considering the rise of antibiotic resistance.
With any potential infectious disease diagnosis, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine at the time of presentation what the underlying cause of illness is. For example, acute respiratory illness is among the most frequent reasons for patients to seek care. These symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, and fever may be due to a bacterial infection, viral infection, both, or a non-infectious condition such as asthma or allergies. Given the difficulties in making the diagnosis, most patients are inappropriately given antibacterials. However, each of these etiologies (bacteria, virus, or something else entirely) leaves a fingerprint embedded in the host’s response. We are very interested in finding those fingerprints and exploiting them to generate new approaches to understand, diagnose, and manage disease.
These principles also apply to sepsis, defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. Just as with acute respiratory illness, it is often difficult to identify whether infection is responsible for a patient’s critical illness. We have embarked on a number of research programs that aim to better identify sepsis; define sepsis subtypes that can be used to guide future clinical research; and to better predict sepsis outcomes. These efforts have focused on many systems biology modalities including transcriptomics, miRNA, metabolomics, and proteomics. Consequently, our Data Science team has utilized these highly complex data to develop new statistical methods, furthering both the clinical and statistical research communities.
These examples are just a small sampling of the breadth of research Dr. Tsalik and his colleagues have conducted.
In April 2022, Dr. Tsalik has joined Danaher Diagnostics as the VP and Chief Scientific Officer for Infectious Disease, where he is applying this experience in biomarkers and diagnostics to shape the future of diagnostics in ID.
Clinical and translational research, COVID-19 therapeutics, clinical biomarkers for infectious disease.
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