Washington D.C. [USA], Jan. 20 : British scientists have identified a 'molecular barcode' in the blood of patients with Ebola Virus that can predict whether they will survive or not.
The research, published in Genome Biology, provides data on the underlying causes of Ebola virus infection and suggests that this type of blood analysis could be integrated into future outbreak responses as a diagnostic tool to help guide treatment strategies.
"Our study provides a benchmark of Ebola virus infection in humans and suggests that rapid analysis of a patient's response to infection in an outbreak could provide valuable predictive information on disease outcome," said Julian Hiscox from University of Liverpool in England.
They used blood samples from infected and recovering patients during the 2013-2016 to identify gene products that act as strong predictors of patient's outcome.
The amount of virus present in the body (viral load) can be a key determinant. The results identified a small number of genes whose expression accurately predicts patient survival, independent of viral load.
Blood samples collected by the European Mobile Laboratory in Guinea of Ebola patients who either went on to survive or die from the acute infection, were analysed using genomic techniques to identify and quantify messenger RNA (mRNA) expression.
These results were compared to blood samples from a separate group of survivors who had recovered from infection and were now free of the Ebola virus.
The analysis also provided some fundamental information on the host response to Ebola virus infection in humans and found that an immediate robust immune response did not affect whether people went on to live or die from the infection.
The data also points to the virus causing significant liver damage. "This study helps us to further our understanding of the human response to Ebola virus infection. This understanding should enable more effective patient care resulting in improved clinical outcomes in future outbreaks," explained Director of Research Miles Carroll at Public Health in England.