Thursday 17 October 2019

New test can diagnose killer infection in minutes to save lives


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Jane Kirby

A new rapid test for sepsis which can give a result within three minutes has been developed by scientists.

The test could save thousands of lives from the deadly condition and experts hope it will be available within three to five years.

At present, it can take up to 72 hours to diagnose sepsis.

Sepsis hit the headlines following the tragic death of Dublin teenager Sean Hughes in January 2018.

His devastated parents succeeded in getting a health awareness campaign on to buses in the capital in the hope of making more people aware of the killer infection.

The new low-cost test, developed by researchers at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland, uses a biosensor device to see whether the protein biomarker interleukin-6 (IL-6) is in the bloodstream.

IL-6 is a molecule secreted by the immune system and is often found in high levels in people with sepsis.

During research at Strathclyde, the new test picked up IL-6 within two-and-a-half minutes.

Experts in the UK hope the test will be used at the bedside in hospitals and in GP surgeries.

Its needle shape means it can also be implanted and used on patients in intensive care.

Dr Damion Corrigan, from the department of biomedical engineering at Strathclyde University, said: "With sepsis, the timing is key. For every hour that you delay antibiotic treatment, the likelihood of death increases.

"At the moment, the 72-hour blood test is a very labour-intensive process but the type of test we envisage could be at the bedside.

"If GP surgeries had access they could also do quick tests which could potentially save lives."

Irish Independent

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