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Subspecialties Microbiology and immunology, Point of care testing, Technology and innovation, Screening and monitoring

A Faster Combination Test for Sepsis

For patients with sepsis, every minute counts. That’s why Savas Tay and his colleagues at the University of Chicago have developed a digital PCR test that rapidly and simultaneously quantifies the levels of multiple sepsis- and immune-related biomarkers in the blood (1).

The test’s targets include i) Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial DNA to spot sepsis, ii) interleukin-6 and TNF-α to evaluate the level of immune response and warn of an impending “cytokine storm,” and iii) the blaTEM gene indicative of resistance to β-lactam antibiotics. Designed to detect even small changes in the levels of these markers, the test can rapidly suggest which patients may recover quickly, slowly, or not at all.

What’s next? The researchers are currently developing a machine to convert their lab-based test into a point-of-care diagnostic offering. At the same time, they hope to expand its ability to distinguish between types of bacteria for better treatment selection.

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  1. M Fatih Abasıyanık et al., Nat Commun, 11, 2607 (2020). PMID: 32451375.

About the Author

Michael Schubert

While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.

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