Boys Mysterious Infection Cured After DNA Sequencing

[CanLyme note: This is the coming wave for better clinical diagnostics for Lyme borreliosis and other infections]

By Maggie Fox NBC TV News

Modern genetic sequencing helped doctors diagnose and cure a teen boy’s mysterious infection, offering a glimpse into hospital techniques of the future. A report in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how the youngster’s case was baffling doctors, who tried treatment after treatment as his brain swelled. Current tests gave no clue as to what was causing it.

Finally, a new sequencing technique that looks at all the genetic material circulating in the boy’s spinal fluid gave up the culprit — leptospirosis, a bacterial disease, probably contracted when he went swimming on a trip to Puerto Rico.

While such tests are still beyond the reach of the average doctors, they won’t be for long, experts predict. “This is the wave of the future.” “We are hoping we can apply this to any patient who comes into the hospital with any infection,” said Dr. Charles Chiu of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the research team. “This is the wave of the future, although it will take a little bit of time to iron out the wrinkles,” agreed Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, who was not involved in the research.

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