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Scientists Find Breakthrough in Sepsis Diagnosis

US researchers from California’s Standford University have identified a set of 11 genes that could help faster diagnosis of patients with sepsis.

Sepsis, a whole-body inflammation syndrome affects when the immune system over-reacts to the presence of infectious pathogens and it is a leading cause of hospital deaths in the US, accounting for 750,000 deaths in the US each year.

“It’s critical for clinicians to diagnose sepsis accurately and quickly, because the risk of death from this condition increases with every passing hour it goes untreated,” said Purvesh Khatri, a member of the team.

In practice, distinguishing sepsis from sterile inflammation, which is not caused by infection, is very difficult. “Right now, the only diagnostics that can help do this are too slow or too inaccurate, or both,” Khatri said.

In their study, Khatri and his colleagues looked at more than 2,900 blood samples from nearly 1,600 patients and found a set of 11 genes that showed a slight jump in activity two to five days before patients were diagnosed with sepsis.

“That means a blood test based on these genes could lead to an earlier diagnosis than with current approaches, which is key considering the rapid rate at which sepsis mortality rises once it gets a foothold,” Khatri said.

They also found the gene-activation signature showed a sepsis-detecting accuracy surpassing that of methods now in use and the findings were published in the US journal Science Translational Medicine.


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