Researchers at Mount Sinai have developed a new way to test for asthma by using a simple nasal brush that identifies a genetic biomarker.
This inexpensive diagnostic test can accurately identify mild to moderate asthma and differentiate it from other respiratory conditions such as allergic rhinitis, smoking, upper respiratory infection, and cystic fibrosis. The research team, led by a collaboration of clinical and computational scientists in the Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, and the Department of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, published their results in June 2018 in Scientific Reports.
“Mild to moderate asthma can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms change over time and can be complicated by other respiratory conditions,” said Dr Supinda Bunyavanich, physician and researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine. “Our nasal brush test takes seconds to collect — for time-strapped clinicians, particularly primary care providers at the frontlines of asthma diagnosis, this could greatly improve patient outcomes through early and accurate diagnosis.”
Currently, pulmonary function testing (PFT) is the most reliable diagnostic tool for asthma. However, access to the equipment and expertise needed to perform these tests is not always prevalent in primary care settings where asthma is frequently diagnosed and treated. It is also difficult to differentiate between asthma and other respiratory diseases using PFT alone, while the nasal brush and subsequent analysis for this asthma biomarker provides a binary result of asthma or not asthma.