Test helps identify elusive central nervous system pathogens

Answers from the Lab

Central nervous system infections can be devastating. Rapid, accurate diagnosis is key to optimal treatment. In this test-specific episode of the "Answers From the Lab" podcast, Robin Patel, M.D., explains how Mayo Clinic Laboratories' new CSF Metagenomics assay can provide answers, when standard testing doesn't.

"This test is indicated for patients with suspected central nervous system infection, such as meningitis and/or encephalitis, in whom a traditional workup has been unrevealing. If the clinical presentation and cerebral spinal fluid parameters remain consistent with infection, this test could be considered," Dr. Patel says.

The assay uses shotgun metagenomic sequencing, which applies complex bioinformatic analyses to all DNA and RNA sequences in a cerebrospinal fluid specimen. The sequences deriving from humans are removed, and the remaining sequences are analyzed for evidence of a potentially pathogenic microorganism.

"This test provides answers where traditional diagnostics have not been forthcoming," Dr. Patel says.

Listen to learn more about Mayo Clinic Laboratories' CSF Metagenomics assay.

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Barbara J. Toman

Barbara J. Toman is a Senior Communications Specialist at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is also the science writer for Mayo’s Neurosciences Update newsletter, which helps referring physicians to stay informed about Mayo’s treatment and research. Barbara has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2007. She enjoys international travel and cooking.