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Rapid Detection Of Sepsis With A Drop Of Blood
May 21, 2018

A paper published recently in the journal Nature-Biomedical Engineering uses a drop of blood to quickly detect sepsis. This method of detection is fast, inexpensive, and accurate, making it easy to monitor patients at risk for sepsis.


Sepsis is a fatal disease. The body of patients with sepsis can respond extremely to serious infections, causing tissue and organ damage. About 30% of patients will be misdiagnosed. This is because the current detection methods have poor specificity and are slow. It takes several days to produce results, causing doctors to prescribe unnecessary antibiotics, which in turn leads to the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant strains.


Daniel Irimia and colleagues at the Massachusetts General Hospital designed a device that drops a drop of blood into a labyrinth of microscopic tubes. Then, a "sepsis score" was calculated by associating the movement of neutrophils in the maze ("response of the immune system") with the severity of sepsis through a machine learning algorithm. The researchers showed that the test only takes a few hours, and in a double-blind observational study of 42 patients, healthy individuals can be distinguished from patients with sepsis based on sepsis scores, with a sensitivity and specificity of more than 95%.


Although the test needs to be validated by a larger, more diverse group of patients, it still has the potential to increase the survival rate of patients at high risk of sepsis and reduce the overuse of antibiotics.