Microelectrode device could diagnose sepsis in under 3 minutes

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A new rapid test for the earlier diagnosis of sepsis has been developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde (UK).

The microelectrode device analyses a patient’s blood, with results being generated in under 3 minutes. Currently, sepsis diagnosis is based on body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and often a blood test, which can take up to 72 hours.

The new test generates a sensitive real-time measurement as it detects a protein biomarker of sepsis, IL-6, in the blood.

The team hopes it could be used in GP surgeries and in A&E wards to quickly rule out sepsis. In addition, the shape of the device means it could also be implanted and used to monitor patients in intensive care.

The team hope that the low-cost test could become routine within the next 3–5 years.

Damion Corrigan, from the department of Biomedical Engineering at Strathclyde, commented: “We’ve developed a needle shaped sensor with different electrodes and have shown we can detect one sepsis biomarker in almost real time, at the clinically relevant levels.

“When levels go up, as they do in sepsis, we can detect that too. Sepsis is quite complex and difficult to diagnose but IL-6 is one of the best markers.

“Our research so far shows you can measure a single sepsis marker, but there are actually eight sensors on the needle, each about the same diameter as a human hair and the idea is that in the future we can get multiple markers on the one microchip for a more comprehensive test.”

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Sources: Russel C, Ward AC, Vezza V et al. Development of a needle shaped microelectrode for electrochemical detection of the sepsis biomarker interleukin-6 (IL-6) in real time.Biosens. Bioelectron. 126, 806–814 (2019); www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/news/rapidtestforsepsisdevelopedbystrathclyderesearcherscouldsavethousandsoflives/

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