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Monitoring infection in patients with compromised immune systems

Memphis, Tennessee, September 3, 2019

Diego Hijano, MD, of St. Jude Infectious Diseases

Dr. Diego Hijano, Instructor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Acute respiratory tract infections are a leading cause of death in infants and children worldwide. Those with impaired immune systems are at a higher risk.

Physicians can adapt therapy for their patients by checking their response to antiviral drugs. Yet, accurate viral and immune markers are still needed.

St. Jude scientists have developed a test to monitor infections in these patients.

The team used digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR). The dPCR tests can detect influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus in respiratory samples.

“Our results showed that the dPCR test can correlate the amount of virus present in a sample with clinical symptoms,” said Diego Hijano, MD, of the St. Jude Department of Infectious Diseases. “This approach may provide an important tool to assess a patient’s treatment needs.”

A report on this work appeared in PLoS One.

The study’s other authors are Jessica Brazelton de Cardenas, Gabriela Maron, Cherilyn Garner, Jose Ferrolino, Ronald Dallas, Zhengming Gu and Randall Hayden, all of St. Jude.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit, read St. Jude Progress, a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.