New research could lead to an influenza throat swab, for easy diagnosis of the flu.
Influenza is a common disease worldwide with the potential to cause pandemics and serious economic losses. The ability for medical professionals to quickly and accurately diagnose the influenza virus in patients is challenging, and therefore novel diagnostic methods are much needed.
Micro-RNAs, which can be easily detected in saliva, are molecules similar to DNA, and are used in the coding, regulation and expression of genes. Researchers have recently learned that the levels of micro-RNAs in influenza patients differ from the levels seen in healthy people, which offers an opportunity for a novel and reliable diagnostic method for the influenza virus. The researchers in this study examined the use of micro-RNAs for the diagnosis of the influenza virus. The investigators measured various micro-RNAs to compare the levels between patients with influenza and healthy people. The researchers used 86 throat swabs from the Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, which contained saliva samples from patients with influenza and healthy people. The levels of micro-RNAs were tested to see if any patterns between the two groups were present. The results demonstrated that the levels of micro-RNAs differed between patients with influenza and the control group. The results from the study showed that, depending on the specific micro-RNA tested, levels were either lower or higher when compared with the control group, those not infected with influenza.
This study shows that testing throat swabs for micro-RNAs is a non-invasive and effective method for diagnosing the influenza virus. This method is also very easy and cost effective, allowing it to be easily incorporated into medical practice.
Peng, F., He, J., Loo, J., Yao, J., Shi, L., Liu, C., Zhao, C., Xie, W., Shao, Y., Kong, S., Gu, D.“Identification of microRNAs in Throat Swab as the Biomarkers for Diagnosis of Influenza” International Journal of Medical Sciences, 13 (1): 77-84, January 2016.
Written by Mariana Nikolova, BSc.