Going against the Flow

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Discovery Award Winner

About this entry

Sepsis is the severe, life-threatening inflammatory reaction to infections, which affects more than 30 million people and kills more than 8 million people worldwide each year. Survival rates are very low without appropriate treatment within hours of onset, leading to the need for presumptive clinical diagnosis and administration of typically broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy. However the clinical diagnosis of sepsis requires skilful consideration of a large number of biochemical, haematological and observational criteria. This is challenging in the setting of a well-equipped hospital emergency room, and impossible in most primary care facilities, leading to both the excessive presumptive use of antimicrobials in patients with less severe infections, and missed opportunities for early treatment where needed, resulting in death or more prolonged periods of hospitalisation and therapy.  Thus there is an urgent, unmet need for point of care (POC) tests for sepsis to resolve the ongoing battle between the needs for urgent provision of clinical care and appropriate antibiotic stewardship.

Our test will detect the increased expression of CD64 on neutrophils, which is well known as a marker of sepsis and severe infections but we have discovered that in many patients the CD64 is not on the surface of the cells, which is the basis of current CD64 tests. By detecting all the CD64 in the sample, along with a marker of neutrophil numbers, we are able to significantly improve the detection of sepsis and severe infections, and we will build a lateral flow test based on our promising results in the laboratory test.

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