Researchers from Imperial College London have developed a blood test to diagnose the cause of fevers in children. The test detects patient gene expression in their blood during a fever-causing inflammatory response to pinpoint the disease, which is coined as Personalised Molecular Signature Diagnosis (PMSD). 

The approach involving gene expression profiling will improve diagnosis workflows as many diseases have similar symptoms, according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

“With multiparameter testing becoming more common in hospitals globally, gene expression pattern recognition could be applied before specific testing,” says Selena Yu, medical analyst at GlobalData. “Current multiparameter tests are grouped by disease type, like respiratory illness or sexually transmitted infections panels. However, these panels require healthcare professionals to have direction in their diagnosis.”

Details of the Gene Expression Test

The Imperial College London test simultaneously differentiates and identifies 18 inflammatory or infectious illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus and tuberculosis in under 60 minutes. Additionally, the test uses machine learning to identify which gene expression pattern correlates to specific diseases and pathogens. Although the test is not available for clinical use, there is great potential in gene expression pattern detection and mapping for disease diagnosis across various age groups and illnesses. 

When symptoms are blurred across different types of illnesses, tests that use PMSD may have an upper hand,” Yu says. “For example, fevers are one of the most common symptoms across many diseases and infections, thus having a test that goes beyond viral, fungal, or bacterial infection can buy valuable time in treating the patient quickly and effectively.”

Further reading: Can Gene Expression Profiling Guide Melanoma Management?