Microfluidic chip detects sepsis at 98% accuracy

Researchers at the Texas Tech University in Lubbock invented a microfluidic chip to help detect sepsis using less than a drop of blood — and the device is showing 98 percent accuracy in identifying the life-threatening condition in human patients.

The chip looks for the activation of certain white blood cells that show the body is trying to fight an infection as opposed to finding the bacteria causing sepsis. It can detect sepsis in as little as four hours — and uses less than a single drop of blood.

The researchers' initial results were obtained two years ago using stem cells, but now, the team conducted a clinical study using human blood that's proven to be successful.

The research team reported 98 percent accuracy in detecting sepsis using the chip in two recently published papers from the study, one in Analyst and one in Analytical Chemistry.

"Patient samples are usually where a project fails," said Dimitri Pappas, PhD, who invented the chip with TTU graduate student Ye Zhang. "We were able to detect sepsis and in many cases track improvement in health using patient blood. It is extremely gratifying to see the idea work so well in a clinical study."

Dr. Pappas plans to spend the next 12-18 months analyzing all the data from the clinical study, and is also making plans to commercialize the chip.

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