Media Release - NSLHD‚Äč Date: June 02 2016

RESEARCHERS WORK TOWARDS TEST TO PREDICT FLU COMPLICATIONS

Researchers in the Emergency Department at Royal North Shore Hospital in collaboration with researchers from the University of Sydney are embarking on a ground breaking trial which may result in a test to identify those at risk of complications from influenza.

Over 2,500 Australians die each year from complications caused by the flu with young children, the elderly, and people with certain health conditions being most seriously affected.

In this trial, named HIST (High risk Influenza Stratification Tool), researchers will be looking for a unique protein in the blood that they are hoping may predict which patients will develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (or ARDS) - a deadly complication of influenza. In ARDS, fluid builds up in the tiny air sacs of the lungs, preventing oxygen from getting to the blood.

"If we are able to identify which patients are at higher risk of developing ARDS, we will be in a better position to know who to keep under close observation and who we should give early specific antiviral therapies which may be life-saving," says Associate Professor Mark Gillett, principal investigator at Royal North Shore Hospital.

The researchers will be screening patients for inclusion in the trial as they present to the Royal North Shore Hospital Emergency Department.

Anyone over the age of 18 with flu-like symptoms, who consents to being involved in the trial, will be tested for influenza via a nose swab and blood test to look for the protein. The blood collection and nasal swab will be part of the routine testing done for patients suspected of this condition, so there is no additional discomfort for the patient.

The research team will follow up patients by phone and see if the HIST protein selectively identified those patients who developed serious complications.

The trial will run through the Australian influenza season between late May and October, with results from the study expected within two years.

Media inquiries: Emily McCluskey 0476 808 170

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