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Scientists predict outcome of Ebola infection with blood test: Study

A new blood test may give doctors insight into who will survive an Ebola infection.

By Amy Wallace
This National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) image, taken on August 12, 2014 using a digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM), depicts a single filamentous Ebola virus particle. Researchers have developed a blood test to accurately predict survival outcomes in Ebola patients. File photo by NIAID/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/efd1131ac694ed9e8e82728730540efc/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
This National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) image, taken on August 12, 2014 using a digitally-colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM), depicts a single filamentous Ebola virus particle. Researchers have developed a blood test to accurately predict survival outcomes in Ebola patients. File photo by NIAID/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Liverpool in England have developed a blood test that can determine whether patients will survive or die from the Ebola virus.

The team of scientists from the University of Liverpool along with Public Health England, Boston University and other colleagues have identified a molecular "barcode" in blood samples of patients with the Ebola virus.

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The study examined blood samples from patients infected with and recovering from the Ebola virus from 2013 to 2016 during the West Africa outbreak. They used these samples to identify gene products that can act as predictors of patient outcome.

Researchers were able to identify a small amount of genes whose expression can accurately predict patient survival, regardless of the amount of virus in the body, or viral load.

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Blood samples of Ebola patients who survived or died from the virus were analyzed using genomic techniques to identify and quantify messenger RNA, or mRNA, and results were compared to blood samples of survivors who fully recovered and were free of the virus.

Results gave vital information about the body's response to Ebola and showed that a robust immune response had no impact on whether a person lived or died from the virus. Researchers also found that the Ebola virus can cause liver damage.

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"Our study provides a benchmark of Ebola virus infection in humans, and suggests that rapid analysis of a patient's response to infection in an outbreak could provide valuable predictive information on disease outcome," Professor Julian Hiscox, a virologist at the University of Liverpool's Institute of Infection and Global Health, said in a press release.

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The study was published in Genome Biology.

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