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Genes used to identify ventilator pneumonia in ICU

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Genes can be used to distinguish pneumonia associated with ventilator use from other serious illnesses, claim US researchers.

They analysed more than 8,000 genes in seven ICU patients on mechanical ventilators and identified changes in 85 that indicated early activation of the immune system in response to pneumonia.

They coupled this with computer technology, which they say makes it possible to monitor a patient’s recovery.

‘If we could determine which patients are destined to develop pneumonia based on early changes in the activity of genes that regulate immune response, we could give them antibiotics sooner, with the hope that we might be able to prevent or curtail the infection,’ said study author Perren Cobb, director of Washington University’s center for critical illness and health engineering.

The research is published in the latest edition of the journal Public Library of Science One: www.plosone.org

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