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Subspecialties Clinical care, Liquid biopsy, Microbiology and immunology

Seeking Out Sepsis

The dangers of waiting too long to diagnose and treat sepsis are well-known; for every hour treatment is delayed, a patient’s chance of survival decreases by 7.6 percent (1). But what if it were possible to detect sepsis even before clinical symptoms arise? That’s precisely what a group of Austrian researchers hopes to offer with a new biomarker detection approach (2).

By using classification algorithms to analyze sequencing data from sepsis patients and healthy controls, the group has identified a set of 24 cell-free DNA biomarkers. Using an aliquot of cell-free blood, a new quantitative real-time PCR test can detect these circulating biomarkers to identify the presence of sepsis with over 80 percent accuracy as early as two to three days before the onset of clinical symptoms.

Work toward regulatory approval is already underway – and despite delays introduced by the current pandemic, the researchers are optimistic that their test may soon offer patients rapid sepsis detection and intervention.

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  1. A Kumar et al., Crit Care Med, 34, 1589 (2006). PMID: 16625125.
  2. E Ullrich et al., J Biotechnol, 310, 80 (2020). PMID: 32017954.
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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