Since the outbreak of the hemorrhagic disease Ebola, the death toll has been increasing and leading to fatal results. However, there is a ray of light for Ebola patients — a blood test may be able to detect their chances of survival.
Researchers from University of Liverpool's Institute of Infection and Global Health have discovered a "molecular barcode" that can be located in the blood of Ebola virus infected patients. This barcode can assist in assessing and analyzing the life expectancy of the patients.
"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," revealed Julian Hiscox, a virologist at the university.
The Study's Findings
Researchers from University of Liverpool, in collaboration with Boston University, Public Health England and other partners, have collected blood samples from patients in West Africa during the 2013 to 2016 outbreak.
These samples were collected with the sole intention to detect the genes that can help predict the life and death outcome of those infected by the deadly virus.
The results of this new research have been published in Genome Biology. According to this study, a very small number of genes could express the survival and death estimations for the Ebola patients.
These results were later compared with the blood samples collected from another group of survivors who had recovered from the fatal infection and were free of the Ebola virus. The second group of survivors was analyzed on the basis of genomic techniques.
The study revealed that a robust immunity system could not alter the state of the patients and did not have much impact on their chances of surviving. Moreover, the study disclosed that if the virus remained in the body for a prolonged period, then the chances of it causing liver damage increased.
The scientists could also analyze the outcome for patients who were carrying a higher percentage of the virus. During the study, they found that patients with mid-range count of viruses had a less chance of losing their life, but the situations were unpredictable. The prediction, however, is tricky as patients stood equal chances of either surviving or dying due to severe infection.
The findings of the researchers can act as a diagnostic tool to detect the disease in the future and also recommend safety measures and draw strategies to curb such epidemics.
The study aims to help in gaining a better understanding of the Ebola virus and its detrimental effects on the human body.
"This understanding should enable more effective patient care resulting in improved clinical outcomes in future outbreaks," shared Miles Carroll, Public Health England's director of research.
The study entitled "Transcriptomic signatures differentiate survival from fatal outcomes in humans infected with Ebola virus" has been published in Genome Biology.