Researchers at the University of Strathclyde have developed a test that may lead to quicker sepsis diagnoses.
Currently, it can take up to three days to confirm a sepsis diagnosis via blood cultures however the University's biosensor device can lead to a confirmation of the disease in as little as three minutes, potentially saving up to 14,000 lives each year.
The sensor is designed to detect a common sepsis biomarker, Interleukin-6, within a sample of blood by using a microelectrode positioned on a substrate of needle-like protrusions.
Dr Damion Corrigan, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Strathclyde, said:
“The research shows that the tools we’ve developed could underpin a rapid test for sepsis.
“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.
“When levels go up, as they do in sepsis, we can detect that too. Sepsis is quite complex and difficult to diagnose but IL-6 is one of the best markers.
“Our research so far shows you can measure a single sepsis marker, but there are actually eight sensors on the needle, each about the same diameter as a human hair and the idea is that in the future we can get multiple markers on the one microchip for a more comprehensive test.”
Sepsis is caused when the body's immune system while fighting an infection, releases a large number of chemicals into the bloodstream causing widespread inflammation. This can lead to organ damage, and even death if not treated quickly.
Dr Ron Daniels, CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust Sepsis Trust said:
"Systems like this are so important as, with every hour before the right antibiotics are administered, risk of death increases. No test is perfect in the identification of sepsis, so it’s crucial we continue to educate clinicians to think sepsis in order to prompt them to use such tests."
The research is still in its early stages and the research team is hoping to attract more funding to take it through clinical trials and commercialisation. With the right support, they hope the test could be available within the next three to five years.