During the ongoing pandemic of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which has been caused by the spread of the highly contagious severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), scientists have developed several innovative diagnostic tools, many of which have been expanded. beyond the boundaries of the conventional clinical microbiology laboratory.
A recent editorial published in the journal Clinical Biochemistry reports the latest innovations in infectious disease diagnostics.
Study: Innovations in the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Image Credit: PaeGAG/Shutterstock.com
New diagnostics of infectious diseases
In recent years there have been significant improvements in diagnostic testing capabilities for infectious diseases, such as those due to influenza, SARS-CoV-2, Clostridium difficilehuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Group A streptococci, as well as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and Lyme disease.
Several years ago, Hepatitis B surface antibody testing based on automated chemical analyzers was introduced. This approach, which has been applied to other infectious diseases, has been extended to detect antigens and nucleic acids in addition to antibodies.
The use of alternative and non-invasive sample types has also been reported so that diagnostic samples are not limited to blood samples from infected individuals. Recently, saliva and dried blood spots have been used for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, where saliva can be used for the diagnosis of diseases while dried blood spots can be used for surveillance purposes.
Several innovative diagnostic tools for diseases are based on applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Advances in existing technologies and the discovery of new technologies have led to point-of-care, over-the-counter testing and direct-to-consumer testing applications.
Previous research has shown the importance of understanding testing limitations. More specifically, sub-optimal analytical sensitivity, if implemented correctly, could be perfectly “fit for purpose” in regional networks of hospitals and clinics.
Researchers have also validated a new analytical method to analyze three proteins simultaneously. This method can accurately distinguish between bacterial and viral infections in sick patients.
Over-the-counter and direct-to-consumer types of new diagnostic kits have been developed to detect group A Streptococcus pharyngitis. A recent Lyme testing algorithm from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also significantly improved the practical considerations for its implementation.
Significant differences have been reported in SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests. Thus, the optimal performance of these tests should be considered when using them in the future.
Certain limitations associated with nucleic acid amplification testing have also been described, despite the fact that this test is considered the gold standard for SARS-CoV-2 detection in terms of specificity and sensitivity.
Balogun and Slev’s (2022) research has provided important insights into issues related to currently available HIV testing. More specifically, these scientists described the current challenges related to pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis used to control HIV infection.