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Home » Infectious Diseases » Sepsis: why new technology is needed to battle the silent killer

Stéphane Rougale

Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, QuantaMatrix Europe

Sepsis, a syndromic response to infection and frequently a final common pathway to death for many infectious diseases, accounts for almost 20% of all global deaths. Only fast, targeted treatment can be sure to keep patients safe.

A third of hospital deaths are due to sepsis, and rising. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that at current rates, sepsis will be the top cause of death worldwide by 2050.

With mortality rates increasing by 6% every hour for a patient with sepsis, it is vital that clinicians have fast access to the right medicines. However, current methods for sepsis testing take between 48 and 72 hours to process and return.

Stéphane Rougale, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of QuantaMatrix Europe, explains, “Currently, you have to draw blood from a patient, culture the bottle and isolate any bacteria you find, run it through a system, and then take sub-cultures, and more. The process can be very time-consuming and complex. If you find bacteria in the sample, it very quickly becomes an emergency and you need to act fast.”

Fighting antimicrobial resistance

While this testing process is taking place, patients have often initially been prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics, which are not specifically targeted to their condition.

Reducing the time a patient spends on these medicines is important, not only to treat an identified condition, but also to lessen the chance of antimicrobial resistance build-up.

As increasing exposure to antibiotics and other antimicrobial medicines renders many ineffective, and infections become increasingly difficult or impossible to treat, the WHO has called antimicrobial resistance one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity.

Rougale explains, “If we reduce exposure to broad spectrum antibiotics by targeting the exact treatment patients need, we can get really focused treatment, reduce antimicrobial resistance, reduce healthcare costs and increase survival rates.

“These antibiotics also come with a lot of side effects. The shorter patients can be on them and the quicker they can be switched to a dedicated treatment to help, the better. A dedicated treatment for sepsis will therefore be a big advantage for a patients, clinicians and hospitals.”

New, fast, innovative testing  

New rapid response testing can now use microbiology platforms to test for sepsis. While the sample taken from the patient is similar to current methods, the process used for testing it is much quicker.

dRAST is a new test that has been developed using reinvented, fully automated reference methods, alongside time-lapse imaging of the bacteria mixed with antimicrobial sample gel to see how they respond.

Rougale explains, “We take the same kind of blood culture sample but don’t require any calibration or complex process. You put the sample into the platform, press a button and it does it for you.”

According to Rougale, “Every hour it takes pictures to see how the bacteria interact with the drug. Usually, the bacteria circulate in the blood and become hard to locate over time. You lose track of them. This system technology is able to fix the bacteria in gel in the presence of drugs so you can see how they behave over time, find out whether the bacteria are resistant or susceptible to the drug and whether the concentration needed might have side effects.”

At a time when healthcare services are under particular pressure, a rapid response can help ease the burden.

“This technology can save up to two days in the hospital,” says Rougale. “That will free up beds, which can be a huge benefit, especially in COVID-19 times.

“A stream-lined process like this one will help the clinician, help the patient, reduce sepsis mortality rates and reduce the number of days a patient stays in hospital, which in turn will reduce healthcare costs.”

QuantaMatrix is the creator of the direct and Rapid Antimicrobial Susceptibility Test, or dRAST. It is a platform for microbiology against sepsis. It provides same-day results within four to six hours for a patient with suspected sepsis, along with targeted therapy for clinical use.

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