Research projects target sepsis

SEPSIS is the target of the latest development in the UK’s Detection and Identification of Infectious Agents (DIIA) programme, which manages a number of government-backed projects to develop technologies to reduce the impact of infectious agent.

Sepsis is the result of the immune system’s response to infection, causing life-threatening inflammation and illness.

In this latest announcement from the Technology Strategy Board, 12 new projects to improve the diagnosis, detection, and management of sepsis are to be funded to the tune of £8 million (about US$13 million) from the public purse, with a similar amount to be raised from the private companies involved in the projects.

Among the technologies to be developed are a point-of-care (PoC) device to detect pathogens, and another to predict antibiotic resistance profiles, a rapid test (under three minutes) to detect bacteria in blood, devices for the rapid detection (under 15 minutes) of pathogens and host response in a single system, biomarker-based cellular assays to predict stages of infection and sepsis, and tests based on physical and biological measurements to detect the early signs of infection and sepsis.

Projects were selected by a couple of competitive processes. One competition sought proposals to develop point-of-care diagnostic multi-pathogen detection and/or simple discrimination tools to help in the management of sepsis. This competition led the programme to pilot an initiative called Design Option, to encourage businesses think more about design at the beginning of their research and development project.

Grant funding comes from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, Department of Health, Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Medical Research Council (MRC). It is to be matched by the British companies involved in the projects, giving a total R&D pot of over £15 million ($24 million).

Two projects will be led by BD Biosciences, with others led by BioGene, HPA Microbiological Services Porton, Inanovate UK, Magna Parva, Mast, MicroLab Devices, Mologic, Randox Laboratories, Sepsis, and Smiths Detection.

The chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, Iain Gray, commented: “We need new and improved diagnostic tools for the management of sepsis. These new products will help reduce the economic burden, death, and illness from sepsis and create opportunities for UK companies in the global market for diagnostic devices.”

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