Researchers develop test to predict ICU patients' risk for deadly infections

A research team in the U.K. is creating a test to identify patients in the intensive care unit with the highest risk for developing secondary infections, including from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile — which could speed up the development of new therapies to help at-risk patients, according to a study published in Intensive Care Medicine.

The research team, led by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh and biotech company BD Bioscience, worked across four sites in the U.K. They identified markers on three immune cells that are linked to a higher risk of these secondary infections. The markers do not show what kind of secondary infection an individual may get, but indicate that they are generally more susceptible to secondary infections.

"These markers help us create a 'risk profile' for an individual," Andrew Conway Morris, PhD, from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge said in a news release. "This tells us who is at greatest risk of developing a secondary infection. In the long term, this will help us target therapies at those most at risk, but it will be immediately useful in helping identify individuals to take part in clinical trials of new treatments."

Since it is often difficult to identify and recruit the patients most susceptible to these infections for clinical trials, the test could help tailor participant selection and improve the trials' chances for success.

"As intensive care specialists, our priority is to prevent patients developing secondary infections and, if they do, to ensure they get the best treatment," said senior study author Tim Walsh from the University of Edinburgh.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control: 
A World Cup-prompted measles outbreak? 3 things to consider
Postsurgery VTE linked to perioperative blood cell transfusions
Study: Researchers create model to study humans' behavioral response to epidemics 

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