It’s easy to see antibiotics as the instant cure-all for whatever is troubling you; in other words, antibiotics have become the quickest way to feeling better.
However, they can also lead to some unpleasant side effects, and in a lot of cases you can actually be better off without them and regaining your health on your own. But a new blood test cuts the guessing game regarding your need for antibiotics.
Even though there are already tests that can determine the course of treatment based on whether patients are dealing with viruses or bacteria, these often require a long process of culturing the microbes.
For patients looking for relief ASAP, waiting one to three days is unfortunately too long, especially when it comes to those coming in the emergency room. The new blood test is described in a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
According to study leader Dr. Ephraim Tsalik, professor at the Duke University, the blood test requires only a few drops of blood and the results are back in an hour.
Over the course of that one hour, doctors will be able to determine the type of infection the patient suffers from – bacterial or viral – and whether or not they need prescription antibiotics.
The test’s efficiency relies on analyzing the patient’s genetic reaction to an infection or virus, which is a much faster process than looking for key characteristics of microbial infections.
Even though the blood test is still in the first phases of development, Tsalik strongly believes the final product will mark a significant breakthrough in the way antibiotics will be prescribed.
Considering the need to curb the abuse of painkillers and antibiotics, Tsalik’s new blood test could help doctors make better and wiser decisions about antibiotic use. Compared to what’s currently available on the market, “just about any kind of test is an improvement,” he added.
Tsalik couldn’t emphasize enough how the blood test needs much more improvement, as it currently takes around ten hours to return results. Ideally, the research team should be able to bring it down to an hour or less.
This report, according to Tsalik, is “by no means the end of the story,” so the medical community is waiting excitedly about what’s coming next. In the end, the blood test will be available for use in an office-based lab or even at the patient’s bedside.
Image Source: Clinical Genomics