APR 12, 2018 12:00 PM PDT

Biomarkers to Discriminate Bacterial and Viral Infections

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  • Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University School of Medicine
      Ephraim Tsalik is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. He also holds an appointment in the Emergency Department Service at the Durham VA Health Care System. He earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from Columbia University followed by residency and fellowship training at Duke University. He also obtained a Masters in Health Services with a focus on Clinical Research. Through the Duke Center for Applied Genomics & Precision Medicine, Dr. Tsalik leads multiple translational research programs focused on understanding the dynamic between host and pathogen so as to discover and develop host-response markers that can diagnose and predict health and disease. This new and evolving approach to diagnosing illness has the potential to significantly impact individual as well as public health considering the rise of antibiotic resistance.


    Inappropriately prescribed antibacterials for viral respiratory illness contribute to increased healthcare costs, unnecessary drug-related adverse effects, and drive antimicrobial resistance. The inability to rapidly and reliably distinguish bacterial from viral or non-infectious etiologies is a major impediment to appropriate antibiotic use. Pathogen detection strategies can be helpful but are limited by poor sensitivity, long time-to-result, inability to distinguish infection from colonization, or restricted number of target pathogens. A complementary diagnostic strategy focuses on the host’s response to the infection. That response is itself encompasses a highly complex biology that can be detected in the transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome among other data types. Moreover, these markers can be single biomarkers such as procalcitonin or multi-analyte biomarker panels. This presentation will review strategies to discriminate viral from bacterial infection, discussing existing as well as emerging technologies.

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