Researchers develop device to rapidly detect sepsis from drop of blood

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Carle Foundation Hospital, also in Urbana, developed a small, portable device to aid clinicians in the early detection of sepsis, according to research published in Nature Communications.

The experimental device requires just a drop of blood to measure white blood cell count, among other metrics, and rapidly assess a patient's immune response to sepsis.

"We are looking at the immune response, rather than focusing on identifying the source of the infection," said lead author Rashid Bashir, PhD, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois and interim vice dean of the university's Carle Illinois College of Medicine. "One person's immune system might respond differently from somebody else's to the same infection. In some cases, the immune system will respond before the infection is detectable. This test can complement bacterial detection and identification."

Researchers tested the device using blood samples from Carle Foundation Hospital patients and found the device's results had a strong correlation to traditional sepsis tests.

"Sepsis is one of the most serious, life-threatening problems in the [intensive care unit]. It can become deadly quickly, so a bedside test that can monitor patient's inflammatory status in real time would help us treat it sooner with better accuracy," said Karen White, MD, an intensive care physician at Carle Foundation Hospital and the study's clinical lead.

Researchers think the device can not only help clinicians identify sepsis at the infection's onset and better monitor sepsis patients, but may one day be capable of developing a prognosis. The research team is working to add new measurements to the device's blood analysis process to provide an even fuller picture of patients' immune response. They've also launched a startup, Prenosis, to commercialize the device.

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