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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Dec 09 15:42:03 EST 2009

Toward a fast, accurate urine test for pneumonia

Scientists are reporting a discovery of the potential basis for a urine test to diagnose community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), a difficult-to-diagnose disease that is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. The test could save lives by allowing doctors to begin the right treatment earlier than often occurs at present. The study appears online in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research: “Pneumococcal Pneumonia: Potential for Diagnosis through a Urinary Metabolic Profile.”

In the new study, Carolyn Slupsky points out that a variety of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes can cause pneumonia. Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) is among the germs that cause CAP. These microbes can be difficult to detect using conventional blood tests, resulting in too-often delaying the start of the right antibiotic to best treat the disease.

The scientists measured metabolites in the urine of patients with pneumonia caused by S. pneumoniae and compared these metabolite profiles to those of urine samples from patients with other types of lung diseases, as well as pneumonia caused by a variety of other microbes. They found that infection with S. pneumoniae produces a distinct pattern of metabolites in much the same way that that the distinct whorls and curves in fingerprints can identify individuals. Identification of this pattern paves the way for more rapid diagnosis so that patients can start treatment sooner with the right medication, they say.


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Streptococcus pneumoniae, growing
in this laboratory culture dish, cause
community-acquired pneumonia.
Credit: U. S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention
(High-resolution version)