Differential diagnosis of origin for febrile illness using host response markers
A rapid (<1 hr) point of care diagnostic test that accurately classifies the causative agent generating fever would reduce healthcare costs and save lives. In 2013, 25% of the 130 million patients entering the emergency room presented with febrile illness . Characterizing febrile illness as having a viral, bacterial, or non-infectious origin would allow rapid triage of patients for appropriate therapy. Of 884 million patient visits to primary care physicians in 2014, 17.8 million resulted in the diagnosis of infectious disease. Rapid triage is particularly important for the elderly, who have increased susceptibility to infection and are at significantly increased risk for morbidity and mortality from common bacterial infections compared with the younger population .
Numerous groups have demonstrated that levels of mRNA in circulating immune cells are differentially altered by viral, bacterial, and non-infectious agents. Identifying a set of consistent markers requires advanced machine learning and statistical analysis. Under a government contract, we have identified both controls and biomarkers whose levels can be quantified by our analytical technology. Our team has demonstrated that a quantitative assay for these markers can be developed and performed rapidly and can be transitioned to a device that can be used in near-patient settings.