Frequent travelers may be more susceptible to developing a particular disease spread by mosquitoes in Asia, South America and Africa. Fortunately for tourists and natives of these areas, researchers from the University of Texas believe they may have found a strategy for applying personalized medicine to diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Dr. Allan Brasier led a team of researchers as they studied dengue fever. The disease, caused by a virus and spread by mosquitoes, afflicts an individual for about one week. There are currently no clear treatment options available to sufferers, and those with the condition experience a measles-like rash, high fever, vomiting, nausea, muscle pains and headaches.
Although few people die from dengue fever, the mortality rate for dengue hemorrhagic fever, its more serious evolution, is about 2.5 percent for those who receive medical treatment for the condition – 12,000 deaths for every 500,000 hospitalizations.
Many more individuals likely die of the disease without being hospitalized or even tested for the virus. Fortunately, researchers were able to pinpoint genetic markers that could predict how a person will respond to the virus that causes dengue fever.
"We have long known that dengue has many manifestations, from asymptomatic to a flu-like state to a life-threatening condition," said lead author Dr. Allan Brasier. "If we could figure out early a patient's susceptibility to the deadly form, we could save thousands of lives."
Brasier's research has honed in on genetic markers that may be able to predict a predisposition toward developing dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Brasier is hopeful that physicians will be able to treat patients soon after they become afflicted with the dengue fever. Ultimately, doctors may be able to save more lives by conducting transfusions and other early intervention strategies.
There are many other conditions that can be treated through the effective use of personalized medicine, assuming those with clinical laboratory jobs and clinical research jobs are willing to conduct this research.
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