Flagstaff researchers have developed a single test for all flus that could help health care workers diagnose patients faster and give them the most effective medicines.
This comes as state labs are overrun with requests for more complex swine flu tests, creating a significant lag time between patients with symptoms and confirmation of their illnesses. A half-dozen researchers with the Translational Genomics Research Institute office in Flagstaff headed by NAU biology professor Paul Keim have created a nasal-swab type of test that can tell whether a patient has swine flu (H1N1) or seasonal flu, and whether that flu is resistant to the main drug used to treat it, Tamiflu.
The swab still must be sent out to a lab for a reading, but the turnaround time is likely to be faster because the lab does not need specialized equipment.
"Because there's a big push on this now, to start doing rapid testing for swine flu ... we also want to get to that next step and give information to the clinician about whether or not there's resistance to the drugs they're giving those patients," said researcher David Engelthaler
This could be a huge boon to health care providers and patients, allowing a quick diagnosis and treatment plan by taking some of the guesswork out of the flu.
When I worked for the University, I had many interactions with Dr. Keim (involving Anthrax, mostly) and I have the highest respect for him as a brilliant biologist. If he says the test works, I'm inclined to believe him.