A new technique can diagnose COVID-19 more quickly and accurately than current techniques. The method was developed based on how the body expresses its genes in response to infections.
The combination of these isoforms alters the proteins produced, including those involved in battling viruses. The new procedure accurately determines whether the body is ascending an immune response to the COVID-19 virus by analyzing the relative abundance of various isoforms.
Flatiron Institute researchers and their associates created a new technique to diagnose even asymptomatic patients with 98.4% accuracy by tracking the body’s molecular reaction to a viral attack.
Frank Zhang, Lead author, and Flatiron research and is currently working at Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Biology (CCB), mentioned, “It is a challenge when it’s early in the infection time window, and one hasn’t accumulated a lot of viral material, or you’re asymptomatic.”
The relative abundance of the different mRNA molecules is used in the new technique to determine with certainty when the body is mounting an immune response to the COVID-19 virus. The new study is the first to diagnose an infectious disease using such a method.
When tested on actual blood samples, the new technique produced an excellent 98.4% accuracy rating. It is especially impressive given that the method is equally effective on asymptomatic patients, for whom rapid antigen tests can only be 60% accurate.
Currently an assistant professor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Zhang states, “It is really surprising that it worked so well. It’s a promising substitute for addition to traditional PCR tests.”
However, the researchers claim that they are optimistic because other research teams have already made advancements in tests that focus solely on which genes are activated.
According to Zhang, the mRNA analysis created in the new study could easily be added to those same tests, producing even better results. Any action they take, including catching cases within hours of the initial exposure, is something we can likely investigate and work together on.
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