Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a very common virus that causes infections of the lungs and airways. It is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children.
Cells from an infant's nose are remarkably similar to those found in
the lungs, suggested a new research from the University of Rochester Medical
Center (URMC). This discovery could lead to much more precise diagnosis of
respiratory syncytial virus and other infant lung disease.
‘Cells from an infant's nose are remarkably similar to those found in the lungs, suggested a new research. This discovery could lead to much more precise diagnosis of respiratory syncytial virus.’
The study, published in Scientific Reports
, provides a
potential avenue for diagnosis that has challenged physicians for years,
as infants with respiratory disease are usually so fragile that
attempting to obtain lung samples is unsafe.
Nasal cells, however, can
be captured through a simple swab of the nostril, and, their similarity
to lung cells on an RNA level would allow physicians to get an accurate
representation of how the lung is responding during disease states,
without the need for more invasive tests.
"An infant with RSV could potentially have their nasal cells tested
to determine if they are among the small group that will develop a
severe response that might require hospitalization," said Thomas
Mariani, professor of Pediatrics at URMC. "Additionally, we could
potentially use this method to examine other at-risk infants, such as
those born prematurely who face a greater risk for lung disease
throughout life - and identify which of those children should be
treated more aggressively."
The research also carries tremendous promise for future studies.
While scientists have made significant progress over the past several
decades to better understand adult lung diseases - such as chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease and lung fibrosis - discovery has not
been nearly as robust for infant diseases, due to the risks involved in
securing lung tissue.
But the relative ease of obtaining nasal cells could accelerate
understanding of how infant lungs respond to RSV and other diseases.
While this study examined 53 healthy infants as a means of establishing a
benchmark for normal cell structure, researchers at URMC have already
begun studying the nasal tissue of diseased infants. Early results are
"We're actively working on studies in infants with lung diseases,
and we're showing quite clearly that we can identify differences between
those with mild disease and those with more severe outcomes," said
Mariani, the study's lead author.