Navigation Links
Newborns' genetic code sends infection distress signal

Babies suffering from life-threatening bacterial infections such as sepsis could benefit from improved treatment, thanks to a ground-breaking study.

For the first time, researchers have been able to detect and decode a signal generated from a baby's DNA that can tell doctors whether or not a bacterial infection is present in the bloodstream.

The findings could help develop a test for bacterial infection in newborns, using a single drop of blood.

Immediate detection of such infections, which are a major cause of death among young children, is currently impossible as no simple test exists.

Accurate diagnosis of infection could limit overuse of antibiotics, which can lead to drug resistance.

The University of Edinburgh team has identified a signal consisting of 52 molecular characters like a biological tweet that is specific to bacterial infection.

The researchers, who have spent the past decade trying to unravel the complexities of blood poisoning and its treatment among premature and full-term babies, say that the genome's signal provides critical, immediate information on the infection.

Using blood samples from newborn babies in Edinburgh, the study investigated thousands of signals written in biological code known as messenger RNAs.

Through meticulous code-breaking the scientists were able to decipher with close to 100 per cent accuracy the signals generated by an infant's genome that specifically tell that they are suffering from sepsis.

Diagnosing sepsis in newborns is extremely difficult, as signs of infection, such as a high temperature, may not occur or if they do, they may not be due to an infection.

Currently the most reliable way to detect infection is by detecting the bacteria in the blood but this requires a relatively large volume of blood.

An antibody test cannot be used as it only provides historical information about an infant's illness.

Professor Peter Ghazal, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Biomedicine at the University of Edinburgh's Division of Pathway Medicine, explained: "Just as a Twitter user can send a 140 character message so a baby's genome produces short messages or signals that produce code information to communicate with the infant's immune and metabolic systems so that it can fight the infection. The 52-character 'tweet' or message that we have identified appears to be specific for bacterial but not viral infection. This type of signal could also be used to detect infection in children and adults. We are now working on ways of using a single drop of blood to detect this vital signal. This work is also leading us onto a response to tackling antibiotics resistance."

Dr Claire Smith, Consultant Neonatologist at the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, added: "This study has the potential to provide real clinical benefits in the future. Despite advances in neonatal care, infection in newborn babies remains a significant issue. Infection is responsible for a significant proportion of neonatal deaths worldwide, and also increases the risk of long-term disability in survivors. There is a pressing clinical need for more accurate and rapid testing for neonatal infection than is currently available. This work is enabling us to move towards being able to distinguish between babies with true infection who need urgent treatment, and those who are not infected and therefore don't require antibiotics. The potential benefits to babies and their families are important. We are grateful to the families who consented to take part in the study."


Contact: Eleanor Cowie
University of Edinburgh

Related biology news :

1. Protecting newborns: milk protein could save millions from harm
2. UCSF receives $4.5M to study value of gene sequencing in newborns
3. Discovery of the gene responsible for multiple intestinal atresia in newborns
4. Privacy a problem for mothers of newborns in neonatal intensive care units, CWRU study finds
5. Study associates excess maternal iodine supplementation with congenital hypothyroidism in newborns
6. Study raises questions about use of anti-epilepsy drugs in newborns
7. Researchers discover first gene linked to missing spleen in newborns
8. Global Genetic Testing Industry
9. Behind the scenes of genetics, leukemia in Down syndrome
10. Can a new species of frog have a doppelganger? Genetics say yes
11. Study shines new light on genetic alterations of aggressive breast cancer subtype
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... 17, 2015 Pressure BioSciences, Inc. (OTCQB: PBIO) ... and sale of broadly enabling, pressure cycling technology ("PCT")-based ... today announced it has received gross proceeds of $745,000 ... Placement (the "Offering"), increasing the total amount raised to ... additional closings are expected in the near future. ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... Nov. 12, 2015  A golden retriever that stayed ... dystrophy (DMD) has provided a new lead for treating ... the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the ... . Cell, pinpoints a protective ... the disease,s effects. The Boston Children,s lab of ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... LONDON , Nov. 11, 2015   ... and reliable analytical tools has been paving the ... and qualitative determination of discrete analytes in clinical, ... sensors are being predominantly used in medical applications, ... and environmental sectors due to continuous emphasis on ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") (TSX-V: ICO) ... quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, unless specified ... under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... Andrew Rae , President & CEO of iCo ... value enriching for this clinical program, but also ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical ... today announced that the company has set a new quarterly earnings ... on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of ... Mexico , with the establishment of an ... --> United Kingdom and Mexico ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced today that ... Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> SHPG ... will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare ... Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Twist Bioscience, a company focused ... Ph.D., Twist Bioscience chief executive officer, will present ... December 1, 2015 at 3:10 p.m. Eastern Time at The ... --> --> ... Bioscience is on Twitter. Sign up to follow ...
Breaking Biology Technology: