Nav: Home

A novel approach to seeing dengue infection in the body

June 06, 2017

Singapore, 6 June 2017 - Commonly used to detect solid tumours, positron emission tomography (PET) paired with the glucose metabolism probe, fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), is considered 'old' technology in the field of cancer. A team from Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has now found a new use for this 'old' technology in another field: infectious diseases research. Using FDG-PET as an imaging tool for dengue infection in mouse models, the team has potentially uncovered a novel and non-invasive way to track the infection in real-time and more accurately assess the effectiveness of new treatments for dengue.

Similar to how radar is able to track and visualise where ships are in the ocean, PET is able to track and visualise where in the body glucose is taken up by cells. FDG is a radioactive version of glucose, which when injected into a mouse and absorbed by cells, can be seen using PET. Inflammation of the small and large intestines is known to occur in dengue-infected mice, and with it cellular uptake of glucose and FDG increases. Knowing this, the team set out to use PET-FDG to visualise inflammation as a marker of dengue infection in mice.

"To our knowledge, this is the very first time PET has been systematically evaluated in the field of acute viral infectious diseases. We are excited to be able to repurpose this non-invasive technology, and generate such robust images of live dengue infection in the body," commented the lead author of the study, Duke-NUS Assistant Professor Ann-Marie Chacko from the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Programme, and head of the Duke-NUS for Translational and Molecular Imaging (LTMI).

Not only was increased inflammation observed in the spleen, and small and large intestines of dengue-infected mice, but the inflammation subsided after antivirals were given. In addition, tracking glucose uptake with FDG-PET predicted the progression and severity of dengue infection, as well as the effectiveness of treatment.

"Being able to visualise dengue infection in the body potentially transforms how the effectiveness of new dengue therapeutics is assessed. We look forward to collaborating with academic and industry partners who are looking to validate their new dengue therapeutics using this novel approach," added Professor Subhash Vasudevan from the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS and senior author of the publication.

Dr Jenny Low, Senior Consultant with the Department of Infectious Diseases at SGH and a clinician on the research team explained, "Traditionally, in research, the amount of virus in the blood is measured and used as an indicator of disease severity. What makes the findings of this study so ground-breaking is that we may have a non-invasive way to track dengue infections in our patients more accurately during clinical trials to better measure if the experimental treatment given is effective."

Whether the basic laboratory findings are translatable to dengue patients hinges on a joint SGH/Duke-NUS study led by Dr Shirin Kalimuddin, Consultant with the Department of Infectious Diseases, SGH. This clinical study is currently recruiting dengue patients as volunteers. Ultimately, the hope is that non-invasive PET-FDG imaging can be used to transform the assessment of new dengue treatments in clinical trials so that infections may be more effectively treated in the clinic. To find out more about this study, please contact study coordinator, Ms Ang Sze Chien at (65) 9848 9297.
-end-
Published on 4 May 2017 in Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight, this research is supported by Duke-NUS start-up funds, Duke-NUS Khoo Pilot Award, the Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council under its Clinical Trials Grants scheme (NMRC/CTGCoD/0001/2015) and Cooperative Basic Research Grant scheme (NMRC/CBRG/0103/2016 ), as well as the National Research Foundation Singapore under its Open Fund - Young Individual Research Grant (NMRC/OFYIRG/0003/2016) and administered by the Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council.

Duke-NUS Medical School

Related Infectious Diseases Articles:

Certain antidepressants could provide treatment for multiple infectious diseases
Some antidepressants could potentially be used to treat a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria living within cells, according to work by researchers in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and collaborators at other institutions.
Opioid epidemic is increasing rates of some infectious diseases
The US faces a public health crisis as the opioid epidemic fuels growing rates of certain infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, heart infections, and skin and soft tissue infections.
Infectious diseases could be diagnosed with smartphones in sub-Saharan Africa
A new Imperial-led review has outlined how health workers could use existing phones to predict and curb the spread of infectious diseases.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases: Experts warn of a surge in vector-borne diseases as humanitarian crisis in Venezuela worsens
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is accelerating the re-emergence of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease, dengue, and Zika virus, and threatens to jeopardize public health gains in the country over the past two decades, warn leading public health experts.
Glow-in-the-dark paper as a rapid test for infectious diseases
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) and Keio University (Japan) present a practicable and reliable way to test for infectious diseases.
More Infectious Diseases News and Infectious Diseases Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...