Study finds new blood test can speed up blood infection diagnosis

T2 Biosystems, a Lexington, Mass.-based medical supply and equipment company, developed a blood test to diagnose a Candida-based blood infection within five hours, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

A Candida-based blood infection, known as candidemia, is one of the most common causes of bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients, according to the CDC. Testing for Candida in the bloodstream can take three days or longer and only has a 50 percent detection rate.

University of Pittsburgh researchers led a study of the faster testing method, called the T2Candida Panel. The study confirmed the speed and accuracy of its testing, and the FDA approved the device. As a result, physicians can get earlier test results, administer antifungal treatments more quickly and avoid multi-drug approaches.

However, research has yet to prove that quicker, more accurate testing leads to fewer deaths, improved outcomes and less drug resistance. "The test finds Candida, but it is not yet known whether earlier detection saves lives. But it's intuitive that the earlier the better," said lead study author Cornelius Clancy, MD.

With the T2Candida testing, a small vial of the patient's blood is placed into the desktop instrument, which automatically performs the testing. The instrument tracks whether Candida is present in the blood sample and determines which species of Candida is present. As a result, a physician can use a specific antifungal medication to kill the infection.

"With an accurate diagnosis, we can start the patient on the correct medication for the type of infection he or she has, which will hopefully allow us to stop the infection before it spreads — but also keep us from giving the patient a drug that won't work and potentially contributing to drug resistance," Dr. Clancy said. 

More articles on infection control: 
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No significant benefit to combination therapy for carbapenem-resistant infections
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