Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Infections, Inflammation, Pediatrics / 18.08.2023 Interview with: Myrsini Kaforou, PhD Senior Lecturer in Bioinformatics Department of Infectious Disease Imperial College London What is the background for this study? Response:  Children very often present to hospital and clinics with fever, but fever is a non-specific disease symptom. The identification of the cause of fever poses a great challenge for the clinical teams worldwide. The available diagnostic tests are neither quick or accurate enough to fully base decisions on, such as withholding or administering antibiotics. For example, cultures may take days or even weeks to provide a result. In our research group, we are working on novel approach; instead of trying to identify the causative pathogen, which is often inaccurate or impossible, we are studying the genes in the patient's blood that are "switched on" or "switched off" during the infection or the disease in general. Using computational/bioinformatics methods, we are able to identify out of thousands of genes, the combinations of genes, "the biosignatures" for each disease. In the past we had shown that this approach works to distinguish bacterial from viral infection, or tuberculosis disease from other conditions that mimic its symptoms. But with this work we have shown for the first time that a single set of genes, a "single gene panel" can be used to discriminate between 6 broad and/or 18 specific infectious or inflammatory conditions that cause fever in children. (more…)