World Sepsis Day: We need a rapid test in the hands of doctors and nurses to reduce mortality

13 Sep 2019

New research published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases this week has identified a new, toxic strain of Strep A that is spreading in England and Wales, with children most at risk, from a sore throat and scarlet fever to, in some cases, sepsis.

This news comes hot on the heels of the launch of Public Health England’s ‘Infectious Diseases Strategy’ which, in addition to setting out the organisation’s strategic priorities for the next five years, once again warns us about the dire risk posed by drug-resistant bacteria to our dwindling stock of antibiotics. The report calls for all of us to play a role in curbing antibiotic over-prescription that is contributing to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It also reports that there are 19 new superbugs active in the UK.

Today, on World Sepsis Day 2019 – a stark reminder of the tragic risks of infections that are not recognised early and treated promptly – we’re renewing our calls for the need to accelerate innovation in the development of rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests that can be used to identify bacterial infections, in any clinical setting and, ultimately, help to save lives. We know from first-hand stories about how the experience of sepsis, resulting in death, severe disability and life-long chronic, can transform people’s lives.

However, we’re getting closer each and every day to a breakthrough in the Longitude Prize. Around the world, a number of the teams are competing for the prize by focusing on rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests for identification of infection and sepsis.

Attomarker (UK) is developing a rapid platform that enables multiple tests to be performed quickly including the c-reactive protein (CRP) test to know if an infection is bacterial or viral. The device docks on a user’s iPhone and the camera reads the intensity changes on a nanophotonic array. The device communicates with the cloud to deliver information (anonymously) for public health monitoring. Follow the team: @Attomarker

Mologic (UK) focuses on bloodstream infections and lateral flow. It detects if there is an infection and at what stage infection is at. Mologic’s co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Paul Davis, was the originator of the Clearblue pregnancy test. The diagnostic uses the same idea to rapidly alert physicians to sepsis. Follow the team: @mologic

Inflammatix’s (USA) solution ‘HostDx’ focuses on ‘reading’ the immune system instead of looking for a bug. Based on unique immune biomarkers, it can identify the presence, type and severity of an acute infection. Follow the team: @Inflammatix_Inc

Of course, this is just a snapshot of some of the teams and their groundbreaking work. There are many other inspirational innovations underway in pursuit of a rapid diagnostic test to tackle the ever-growing threat of AMR.