New predictive model differntiates between dengue fever types

Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch recently developed a predictive model to differentiate between dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever.

The breakthrough is being hailed by experts as a potential means to vastly reduce the disease's mortality rate and could lead to a more personalized approach to dengue fever treatment, according to MedicalXpress.com.

In the United States alone, the number of dengue fever cases tripled between 2000 and 2007. Worldwide, at least 2.5 billion people, 40 percent of the world's population, are believed to be at risk from the illness. Approximately 500,000 people are infected every year by the hemorrhagic form of the disease.

"We have long known that dengue has many manifestations, from asymptomatic to a flu-like state to a life-threatening condition," Dr. Allen Brasier, the study's lead author, said, MedicalXpress.com reports. "If we could figure out early a patient's susceptibility to the deadly form, we could save thousands of lives."

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is believed to have fatality rates that exceed 20 percent, but early and intensive therapy, including transfusions, can drastically reduce the number of fatalities.

The new studies outline the results of proteomic analyses that use commonly available laboratory assays to identify specific candidate biomarkers. The assays are generally available in resource-poor settings.

"Until now, biomarkers of the disease have proved elusive. But proteomics technologies are changing the landscape and these studies are the first step toward a personalized approach to treating dengue infection," Brasier said, according to MedicalXpress.com.