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DNA Tests May Aid Diagnosis of CNS Infections

Genetic sequencing of inflamed brain tissue helped scientists determine cause of damage in many cases

FRIDAY, June 24, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Genetic testing may help diagnose or rule out central nervous system (CNS) infections, according to research published online June 13 in Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation.

The study included 10 patients, aged 16 to 68, with signs of CNS infection, including fever, weakness in limbs, partial paralysis, numbness, headache, or seizures. The researchers took brain or spinal cord biopsies and sequenced the DNA in the tissue. They looked for evidence of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that could cause infection.

“By incorporating modern genetic sequencing techniques into pathology diagnostics, we were able to investigate the potential presence of infection in 10 subjects and found appropriate explanations of clinical problems in eight out of 10 patient cases examined in this study,” study author Carlos Pardo-Villamizar, M.D., an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said in a university news release.

“We hope to develop this technique further as a way to bring the diagnosis rate of inflammatory brain disorders and infections closer to 100 percent so we can treat patients more effectively,” Pardo-Villamizar added.

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