Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Bedside blood test to diagnose sepsis

Researchers from King's College London in the UK are hopeful they have discovered a biomarker or biological footprint for sepsis that could form the basis of a rapid bedside blood test that returns results within 2 hours instead of the 2 days required by current diagnostics.

Sepsis, sometimes referred to as blood poisoning, is a potentially fatal condition where the body's immune system overreacts to an infection, which may result in septic shock. Essential organs are then disrupted, accompanied by a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Rapid diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics saves lives, but this is hampered by the lack of biomarkers - currently it can take up to two days to test blood samples for sepsis.

An another important factor is that symptoms of sepsis are similar to other types of Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS), but only sepsis responds to antibiotics. Giving antibiotics to patients with non-sepsis SIRS could contribute to the rising problem of antibiotic resistance.

The new biomarker is based on micro RNAs, small non-coding molecules that help regulate gene expression in cells. They play a key role in disease. The method used in this research diagnosed sepsis within 2 hours, with 86% accuracy.

This is an extremely exciting development which has the potential to completely transform the management of this severe disease and save thousands of lives worldwide every year. These are promising early findings, and now we need to test this approach in a large clinical trial

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