King's College London team make strides toward rapid sepsis test

U.K. researchers believe they've come up with a rapid blood test that could detect sepsis at a patient's bedside, enabling quicker treatment of the severe and sometimes fatal infection.

The simple test would generate a diagnosis within two hours by screening for a group of biomarkers in the blood that the researcher have recently discovered. Considering that sepsis diagnostic tests can take as long as two days to process and the infection can advance quickly, a speedier test would be a major advance in the standard of care. Quicker diagnosis can give physicians the ability to hit the sepsis infection with antibiotics as soon as possible, boosting a patient's chance for recovery and survival. King's College London scientists produced the finding, and their work is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

The King's College crew determined that some microRNAs are more active in sepsis patients than other groups, giving clinicians a potentially viable biomarker as a basis for a workable blood test. They studied blood samples from patients with sepsis, patients with a non-sepsis-related Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome that doesn't respond to antibiotics, and healthy patients. While more studies are needed, they repeated their results in a trial involving a large number of Swedish patients who suffered from severe sepsis.

Another positive sign: the diagnostic results came through with an 86% accuracy rate, the researchers noted.

Quicker diagnosis of infectious diseases such as sepsis (a common hospital-acquired infection) is a global industry goal, and there are a several players in the space. French diagnostics developer bioMérieux snatched up BioFire Diagnostics recently for $450 million, gaining access to that company's newly launched FilmArray Diagnostic platform designed to handle sepsis diagnosis along with tests in other areas including meningitis and pneumonia. BioFire recently scored a CE mark for its blood test designed to identify more than 100 pathogens known to cause sepsis. Researchers at the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, NM, developed a blood test designed to predict sepsis-related death, though broader trials are needed. Additionally, Thermo Fisher ($TMO) and Roche Diagnostics ($RHHBY) extended their sepsis diagnostics partnership,

- read the release
- here's the journal article