Public Release:  Quick test to diagnose bacterial or viral infection developed by Ben-Gurion University researchers

Novel approach will facilitate immediate clear-cut diagnoses and reduce the frequency of unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, July 20, 2011 -- Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have developed a new test that quickly and accurately distinguishes between bacterial and viral infections in as little as five hours.

Treating viral infections with antibiotics is ineffective and contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, toxicity and greater healthcare costs. Currently tests take 24-48 hours and aren't always accurate enough for a clear-cut diagnosis. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics to provide patient relief before the test comes back, without waiting for the results.

According to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Chemistry, the BGU group has shown it is possible to distinguish a patient's infection as either viral or bacterial by adding luminol to a blood sample and measuring the glow. Luminol is a luminescent chemical substance used in crime scenes to locate traces of blood.

BGU's study clearly indicated that white blood cells that protect the body (phagocytes) react differently to viral and bacterial infections and that the glow or "chemiluminescence" (CL) can detect those distinct reactions.

According to the study, "The method is timesaving, easy to perform and can be commercially available, thus, having predictive diagnostic value and could be implemented in various medical institutions."

In the study, 69 patients admitted to Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva with various types of infections. Rather than looking at the infection, they looked at the immune system's response to the infection.

A multi-disciplinary team, headed by Prof. Robert Marks, of the Department of Biotechnology Engineering and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN) made the discovery. Team member and doctoral student Daria Prilutsky undertook the project as part of her Interdisciplinary Technologies Fellowship from the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education.

"This is a terrific example of the multi-disciplinary approach at BGU that results in innovative research and yields results that can have a worldwide impact," explains Doron Krakow, executive vice president of American Associates, Ben Gurion University of the Negev. "A test of this type has significant implications for cutting healthcare costs, and providing more accurate treatment."

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Differentiation between Viral and Bacterial Acute Infections Using Chemiluminescent Signatures of Circulating Phagocytes

Daria Prilutsky,†,‡,§ Evgeni Shneider,|| Alex Shefer,^ Boris Rogachev,z Leslie Lobel,† Mark Last,‡ and Robert S. Marks*,§,#

†Department of Virology, Faculty of Health Sciences, ‡Department of Information Systems Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Sciences, §National Institute of Biotechnology in the Negev, Emergency Department, ^Division of Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine H, zDepartment of Nephrology, Soroka Medical Center, and #Department of Biotechnology Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

About NIBN

Conducting multi-disciplinary research guided by clear biotechnological goals, the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN) was created with a mission to plant the seeds that will lead to the growth of successful biotechnology industries in Israel, particularly in the Negev. Hosted within Ben-Gurion University, the NIBN is organized along unique guidelines designed to encourage its members to cross the academic barriers that, by tradition, have separated scientific disciplines and instead engage in creative and ground-breaking biotechnological research.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-GurionUniversity of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. With some 20,000 students on campuses in Beer-Sheva, Sede Boqer and Eilat in Israel's southern desert, BGU is a university with a conscience, where the highest academic standards are integrated with community involvement, committed to sustainable development of the Negev. AABGU is headquartered in Manhattan and has nine regional offices throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.aabgu.org.

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