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New Rapid Pathogen Detection Tool to Return Results Directly from Whole Blood in Six Hours

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Nov 2023
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Image: Having results directly from whole blood within six hours can better inform antibiotic treatment decisions for sepsis (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: Having results directly from whole blood within six hours can better inform antibiotic treatment decisions for sepsis (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Sepsis, a severe blood infection, is the primary cause of fatalities in hospitals across the United States. This condition, which arises from a pre-existing infection, triggers a systemic response in the body. Sepsis impacts around 1.7 million adults in the U.S. annually, leading to roughly 350,000 deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that about one-third of hospital deaths involve patients who had sepsis at some point during their stay. Additionally, sepsis is the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, with annual costs ranging from USD 24 to USD 38 billion. The increasing antibiotic resistance due to overuse or misuse of antibiotics makes treating infections more challenging, potentially leading to higher mortality rates. It is estimated that up to 50% of sepsis patients may die if the infection, especially caused by a resistant pathogen, is not treated with the appropriate antibiotics initially. In response, a new initiative is underway to reduce sepsis-related deaths by equipping physicians with vital information to select the most effective antibiotics for specific bloodstream infections.

Siemens Healthineers (Erlangen, Germany) has contracted with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA) to improve antibiotic treatment for sepsis patients. The partnership is centered on developing an innovative diagnostic tool. This tool, leveraging next-generation sequencing, aims to quickly detect and identify various bacteria and fungi from a blood sample within six hours, while also indicating their probable antibiotic resistance. This three-year project, backed by a USD 5.5 million contract, aims to deliver a prototype that meets an urgent clinical requirement – providing timely, precise antibiotic treatments for patients at risk of death due to sepsis.

"To make a difference for patients, we need to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible through collaborative innovation," said Rangarajan Sampath, PhD, head of the Center for Innovation for Diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers. "The bacteria causing sepsis have become ever more effective in evading generic treatment options and a more targeted, precision antimicrobial approach is critical. It's within our capabilities as diagnostic test manufacturers to bridge this gap and support physicians by providing information they need as quickly as possible to treat their patients more precisely for better outcomes."

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