Onset of sepsis identified in single drop of blood could enable early, lifesaving treatment
NIH-funded biomedical engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a rapid test using a single drop of blood for early detection of the deadly blood infection, sepsis. The microfluidic chip could enable early intervention for this life-threatening complication, which accounts for the most deaths and highest medical expenses in hospitals worldwide.
Tiffani Lash, Ph.D., Director of the Point of Care Technologies Research Network (POCTRN), supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at NIH explains, “Patients suspected of having sepsis have a much better clinical outcome when given antibiotics within the first hour. Therefore, the ability of this biochip to rapidly detect this pervasive and life-threatening condition is an outstanding example of the high impact point-of-care technologies envisioned when POCTRN was created.”
Lash further explained how the POCTRN network supports technology development through all phases including identifying an important clinical need, developing and testing the medical device, commercialization to get it into hospitals, clinics and other health care sites, and training health professionals to properly use the technology.
The work from researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is reported in the July issue of Nature Communications.1
“The time it takes to locate and start to treat the infection is what gets sepsis patients in trouble,” said Bashir. “Our strategy focuses on looking at the start of an immune response. The chip detects immune system factors mobilizing in the blood to fight the infection before the patent shows symptoms like a high fever. Our lab-on-a-chip device detects an increase in white blood cells and a surface marker called CD64 on the surface of a specific type of white blood cell called a neutrophil.”
The team developed the technology to detect CD64 because it is on the surface of the neutrophils that are known to surge in response to infection and cause the organ-damaging inflammation, which is the hallmark of sepsis.
Bashir explained that the team is now working to incorporate several additional markers of inflammation into the rapid-test device. This would increase the accuracy of predicting whether a patient is likely to develop sepsis and aid in monitoring a patient’s response to treatment. Rapid monitoring of response would allow a patient to switch to a new drug faster if the inflammatory markers indicate the initial treatment is failing.
The work was supported through the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT)’s Point-of-Care Technology Center in Primary Care (POCTRN), which is a program funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Additional funds were provided by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
1. A point-of-care microfluidic biochip for quantification of CD64 expression from whole blood for sepsis stratification. Hassan U, Ghonge T, Reddy B Jr, Patel M, Rappleye M, Taneja I, Tanna A, Healey R, Manusry N, Price Z, Jensen T, Berger J, Hasnain A, Flaugher E, Liu S, Davis B, Kumar J, White K, Bashir R. Nat Commun. 2017 July.