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Subinoy Das, MD

Award Name KL2

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Improving Patient Care via Detection of Rhinosinusitis

New research underway could soon possibly change the way sinus infections are treated.

KL2 Scholar awardee Dr. Subinoy Das, an otolaryngology-head and neck surgeon at Ohio State, is working on developing a test that will distinguish between the different causes of sinus infections. The test would allow physicians to quickly and accurately diagnose patients and effectively treat them.

“It will feel like patients are getting personalized medicine and care for their problems, as well as it will help distinguish different disease subtypes so that we can actually research them,” Dr. Das said.

Currently there is no way to precisely determine the type of sinus infection a patient is suffering from. Typically, different kinds of medication are given until one is found to be effective in improving the condition. When completed, the test will enable physicians to take a sample swab from a patient’s nose, do a rapid analysis, and have the results of the infection available the next day.

“We can do much better research to figure out how to help people when we know what it is they’re suffering from,” Dr. Das said.

One of the obstacles in the project is that bacteria in the body are mainly biofilms and difficult to culture. Instead, Dr. Das is hoping to find a protein marker that helps signify sinus infections. Another challenge is that most of the infection-causing bacteria live in the back of the throat and do not cause problems, so looking for its presence is not enough. Dr. Das says a valuable test will be one that not only detects the bacteria but also the body’s reaction to it.

“If the development of this test is successful, then [it] will serve as a model to develop better tests to look for different subsets of diseases,” he said.

So far, Dr. Das has found that pathogenic biofilms have very different characteristics from commensal biofilms, which are the ones that live in the body. The surface sugars on bacteria also change when they sense they are being attacked by the body and might help researchers determine which bacteria are causing problems.

Despite all of his research, helping his patients and seeing them get better is very rewarding for Dr. Das. However, at the end of the day the ones he cannot help are the ones who drive him.

“[It] really bothers me, and much of my interest in my research is to find better cares and treatments for [them],” Dr. Das said. “Anything we can do to find medical therapies that avoid surgery in patients would be ideal.”

By Jeffy Mai, Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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