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Genomic analysis to become tool for studying trauma patients

St. Louis, March 18, 2005 -- Genomic analysis may one day be a primary diagnostic tool for physicians deciding on a course of treatment for trauma and other critically ill patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), according to a new study by a national collaboration of more than 70 physicians and scientists.

The researchers showed that state-of-the-art techniques for rapidly analyzing changes in activity of all human genes will likely produce useful insights into the health of critically ill patients. The findings, which are available online and will be published in the March 29 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, make it possible for physicians to begin answering important questions about critical care through genomic analysis.

"It's a very exciting time because our field has experienced such frustration with some of these questions, many of which have important ramifications for how we treat patients," says J. Perren Cobb, M.D., the paper's lead author and associate professor of surgery and of genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Nearly 5 million people are admitted to U.S. ICUs every year, and preliminary 2003 National Centers for Disease Control statistics cite accidental injuries and trauma as the fifth leading cause of death for that year. However, despite significant advances in organ support technology, physicians' ability to predict whether or not a given patient will respond to a specific course of treatment has been poor. To address these and other questions, countries such as Canada and Germany have established networks for research in critical care.

The new study, conducted by Cobb and his colleagues in the Inflammation and Host Response to Injury Large Scale Collaboration Program, is a significant step toward establishing such a U.S. research network.

Scientists tested two aspects of applying genomic technology in the ICU: Could the technology d
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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
18-Mar-2005


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