Biomarkers For Diagnosing Dengue Severity
Dengue fever is a viral disease infecting hundreds of millions of patients annually, causing flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and muscle and joint pains. In a small proportion of the dengue cases, serious complications arise, leading to two severe and life-threatening conditions. The first is Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF), characterised by bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, and the second is Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS), characterised by dangerously low blood pressure. Patients with DHF and DSS require close monitoring and in some cases hospitalisation. Since there are currently no vaccines or effective therapies to combat dengue, early recognition and supportive treatment helps to lower the risk of DHF and DSS.
A team from the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine has identified biomarkers that are linked with varying degrees of dengue severity. These biomarkers are able to differentiate between patients suffering from regular dengue fever and patients likely to develop DHF and DSS.
The biomarkers were developed using blood samples from actual dengue patients with varying degrees of the dengue severity. A range of proteins that were strongly associated with the onset of DHF and DSS were identified. These proteins, including vascular endothelial growth factor and α-macroglobulin were found in significantly higher quantities in the samples from DHF/DSS patients than those from regular dengue fever patients. They can therefore be used as biomarkers to identify which patients are likely to progress to DHF or DSS.
Applications and Advantages
This is the world’s first set of prognostic biomarkers that can be used to predict the onset of dengue severity. They can play a significant role in the management of this disease, helping healthcare professionals develop the appropriate treatment plan. This can significantly improve patient outcome, while simultaneously decreasing hospitalisation rates and healthcare costs.
NUS has applied for a patent for these biomarkers and is now actively seeking licensing partners, who are keen to develop this technology further and bring it closer to market.
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