Sunday, March 8, 2009

Biomarkers for Chikungunya fever .......

Though as we Indians (and more in Karnatak), we might have seen in the last 1-2 years lots of news on Chikungunya. Like raids on many bogus doctors and bogus drugs claiming to treat the disease 100%. Many of us don't even pronounce it correctly, following are the few lines regarding Chikungunya....

Chikungunya (in the Makonde language "that which bends up") virus (CHIKV) is an insect borne virus, of the genus, Alphavirus that is transmitted to humans by virus-carrying Aedes Mosquitoes Originally from Australia, there have been recent outbreaks of CHIKV associated with severe morbidity. CHIKV causes an illness with symptoms similar to dengue fever. CHIKV manifests itself with an acute febrile phase of the illness lasts only two to five days, followed by a prolonged arthralgic disease that affects the joints of the extremities. The pain associated with CHIKV infection of the joints persists for weeks or months.

And also we knew that common laboratory tests for chikungunya include RT-PCR, virus isolation, and serological tests but none of these use to give the severity of CHIKF. Now thanks to a research group from Singapore lead by Dr. Lisa Ng have found three biomarkers for CHIKF, this is really an achievement.

As per the claims by the authors this first comprehensive report, which examines the cellular signals produced as part of the human immune response to Chikungunya virus infection, enables us to understand the changes in molecular signals in the body when infection sets in. These biomarkers can potentially lead to the development of therapeutics to reduce the severity of the disease and halt its progression.

Dr. Ng and her colleagues discovered that an increase in the levels of IL-1β and IL-6, with a concomitant decrease in RANTES, was an indication of a severe form of CHIKF. This finding would allow for quicker and more accurate prognosis of infected patients.

More interestingly the authors found that the level of RANTES was lower in patients with severe CHIKF, as compared to those with dengue. This result could potentially enable physicians and scientists to distinguish quickly between CHIKF and dengue fever - two diseases that present clinically similar symptoms. One more interesting out come of this result is that "cytokines could be used as biomarkers in predicting the severity of the disease". Though further studies are essential, its a significant contribution. Congrats Dr. Ng. More..

1 comment:

Kiran Mahasenan said...

Interesting blog!