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POC Finger-Prick Blood Test Determines Risk of Neutropenic Sepsis in Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 20 Mar 2024
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Image: The low-cost portable device rapidly identifies chemotherapy patients at risk of sepsis (Photo courtesy of 52North Health)
Image: The low-cost portable device rapidly identifies chemotherapy patients at risk of sepsis (Photo courtesy of 52North Health)

Neutropenia, a decrease in neutrophils (a type of white blood cell crucial for fighting infections), is a frequent side effect of certain cancer treatments. This condition elevates the risk of infections, including neutropenic sepsis—a potentially fatal reaction to infection and a severe complication of chemotherapy. Identifying the signs of neutropenic sepsis can be challenging, leading to a stressful and expensive treatment process. Consequently, all chemotherapy patients feeling ill are advised to seek emergency care to check for neutropenic sepsis. Unfortunately, half of these patients do not receive antibiotics quickly enough, while the other half, not at risk of neutropenic sepsis, unnecessarily visit the emergency department.

52North Health Ltd. (Cambridge UK) has developed NeutroCheck, a groundbreaking approach aimed at enhancing the safety and well-being of cancer patients. This innovation combines a finger-prick blood test with an AI-powered digital platform, allowing patients to evaluate their neutropenic sepsis risk at home. This affordable, user-friendly device measures the patient's neutrophil count and CRP level (a marker for sepsis) from just a small blood sample. By inputting this data into the app, along with other patient information, the AI technology provides an accurate risk assessment. Low-risk patients might stay home or receive community care, while high-risk patients get prioritized for urgent emergency department treatment and antibiotics.

NeutroCheck is the first economical, portable tool that measures both cells and solutes in a single sample using adapted lateral flow technology—a method previously limited to measuring solutes. It simultaneously assesses neutrophils and CRP levels, with buffers incorporated within the device released automatically with a simple dial turn. Developed in collaboration with over 100 patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, NeutroCheck aims to streamline the triage process for neutropenic sepsis patients, reducing unnecessary emergency visits, lowering healthcare costs, and potentially saving lives by ensuring timely antibiotic administration.

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