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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Genomics-AI diagnostics test predicts superinfection risk

Health Industry Hub | February 19, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: In combining genomics and artificial intelligence (AI), Australian researchers have developed a pioneering test that accurately predicts the risk of COVID-19 patients developing secondary bacterial infections. This innovative approach utilises a few drops of blood and employs AI to analyse signatures in the bloodstream.

Leading the research was Dr Maryam Shojaei, Senior Research Scientist at Nepean Hospital’s Department of Intensive Care Medicine. The new testing method, with its ability to swiftly identify potential secondary infections, holds immense promise. The test’s efficiency allows for rapid results within hours, a stark improvement compared to the days required for traditional microbiological culture examinations.

Dr Shojaei highlighted its significance, stating “Early detection of high-risk patients will help improve patient triage and allow them to be treated early.”

A distinctive feature of this test is its focus on decoding a patient’s immune response rather than searching for specific pathogens.

“We looked at some of the immune markers in the blood. We use machine learning to interpret that, which then tells a physician how sick the patient who has a viral infection is and if they will progress to superinfection,” Dr Shojaei explained.

This fusion of computation and immunology not only accelerates the diagnostic process but also significantly reduces the workload on physicians, minimising errors in the diagnosis.

“In theory, you could give antibiotics to all COVID-19 patients to prevent secondary bacterial infections. But with the predictive model, we can now determine more accurately who needs life-saving treatment. This marriage of computation and immunology will reduce the workload of physicians and decrease errors and time in diagnosis,” she added.

Moreover, the AI-assisted test goes beyond expediting time to treatment; it enhances the accuracy of drug delivery decisions. With improved precision, clinicians can make more informed choices regarding the administration of drugs, including antibiotics, tailored to each patient’s specific needs.

Developed through collaboration between Nepean Hospital, the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, and the University of Queensland, with valuable input from international experts, the blood test will prove invaluable in managing future pandemics with different viral infections.

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