UK researchers from Glasgow Scotland’s University of Strathclyde as well as University of Leeds and Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital report on sepsis test device that has the potential to save thousands of lives in the UK alone. Researchers from the Sepsis Trust estimate that 52,000 people die from sepsis annually. Sepsis, a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. The incidence of sepsis in the developed world ranges from .2-3 per 1000. On the rise in the United States, over 1 million are afflicted annually and from 15 to 30% of those die—equaling up to 300,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. Up to six million may die worldwide on an annual basis. If diagnosed in time the condition can be treated by powerful antibiotics. However, each minute of diagnostic delay can represent life and death.
Diagnosing sepsis can represent a complex process. Its’ initial symptoms may be mistaken for flu, gastroenteritis or chest inflection. Consequently, any time wasted during the diagnoses causes greater danger to the patient. The earlier the diagnosis the better—each hour saved is precious as this delay’s antibiotic treatment and hence, increases the likelihood of death. The University of Strathclyde researchers hope to complete a low-cost test available for medical professional use within 3 to 5 years.
With the investigational device, a microelectrode device is used to analyze the patient’s blood, generating results in 2.5 minutes. University of Strathclyde’s department of Biomedical Engineering professor Dr. Damion Corrigan notes “we’ve developed a needle shaped sensor with different electrodes and have shown we can detect one sepsis biomarker in almost real time, at the clinically relevant levels.” The sensor can detect as sepsis levels increase focusing on the IL-6 biomarker. Thus far the device can measure a single sepsis marker. Moving forward, the collaborative effort will target several other marker tests. Each device incudes a needle-shaped sensor comprising different electrodes. Each needle includes eight sensors. The goal is to run up to eight marker tests—storing and computing all the results on a microchip.
The research and development ongoing reveal a healthy collaborative effort. The University of Leeds produced the sensing element using microfabrication while the actual test using the sensor as well as the measurements have been developed by the University of Strathclyde. Dr. David Alcorn, based at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, is a clinical advisor and co-author. Dr. Alcorn believes thousands of lives can be saved annually in the UK alone. TrialSite News will monitor the process of this collaborative effort. Undoubtedly to commercialize will require exposing to the clinical trials process in some form. We will be monitoring carefully for when this UK-originated diagnostic kit hits clinical trials.