QUICK TESTS FOR THE UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT


The EU’s DIAGORAS project, which recently started, is desi- gned to provide doctor’s offices with a quick and precise me- ans of diagnosing oral and respiratory infections. The goal is to develop a mobile diagnostic device which can determine if a respiratory infection is viral or bacterial in origin. “The innova- tive system should also provide information about potential antibiotic resistance,” explains Johannes Peham of AIT’s Health & Environment Department. The test analyses the ge- nomes of viruses and bacteria in order to identify them and determine their resistance to antibiotics. “It will take 30 minu- tes at most to arrive at a diagnosis, and the device can be used directly in the general practitioner’s or dentist’s offices” ac- cording to the scientist. Comparable diagnostic devices usual- ly only identify a limited range of viruses and bacteria while this new device will distinguish between 7 bacterial and 14 vi- ral strains.

A further advantage is that the device can be used for a variety of applications; while doctors can accurately diagnose respira- tory diseases, dentists are able to monitor the microflora in the oral cavity. This enables early detection and rapid treat- ment of dental caries and periodontal disease. “A variety of disposable discs will be used for the various applications, but the readout unit remains the same in every case,” Peham ex- plains. The mobile device uses saliva samples to diagnose

dental and oral infections, and nasal and throat swabs for respiratory infections. By also detecting the patient’s inflammatory markers the dentist can use a single device to run different tests, providing a robust diffe- rential diagnosis.

Towards the end of the four-year project, the new diagnostic tool will be tested for its prac- ticability at the Center of Dental Medicine at the University of Zurich, and at the Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam. The alarming rise in antibiotic resistances and the urgent need for rapid infectious disease tes- ting are strong drivers that the novel device will be rapidly adopted by many medical prac- tices, and introduced to the routine of dental practices.n

JOHANNES PEHAM

Scientist

The device will take 30 minutes at most to arrive at a diagnosis, and it can be used directly in the general practitioner’s or dentist’s office.

KONSTANTINO MITSAKAKIS

Hahn-Schickard Freiburg

The DIAGORAS system can differentiate viral ver- sus bacterial respiratory infection, thereby helping prevent the irrational use of antibiotics. Dental di- seases can be identified early via molecular dia- gnostic methods.