A team of defence scientists says they have found a new way to detect sepsis earlier than ever before.
The form of blood poisoning kills more than 50,000 people per year, which is more than those who lose their life to prostate cancer or bowel cancer.
Following a decade of research, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has developed a new test to diagnose sepsis that could save more than six million lives each year.
Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition, triggered by an infection or injury. Without quick treatment, it can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
The World Health Organization says more than 30 million people are affected worldwide every year.
In recognition of their work, scientists at DSTL won the 2018 Military Awards’ ‘Innovation’ category.
“Sepsis is the way the body responds to an infection, so it is always triggered by an infection but in sepsis the body’s immune system goes into overdrive and if we don’t stop it that starts to damage the organs and tissues,” Dr Ron Daniels, Chief Executive of UK Sepsis Trust, explained.
Almost 150,000 people are admitted to hospital for sepsis treatment every year.
“We decided to think about alternative ways to diagnose infection.
“So instead of waiting for somebody to be ill, and become symptomatic, and have a short treatment window, we thought, why not try and treat them or diagnose them before they became ill,” Dr Roman Lukaszewski, Diagnostics Fellow at DSTL, said.
“We have found the signature, we have something upon which we can build a box that you can take into the field and test personnel.”
Louise Davies’ daughter, Aiofe, was diagnosed with sepsis when she was nine weeks old.
She made a full recovery after many days of careful treatment.
“Having this early intervention and having some way of defining yes, or no, is sepsis prevalent here, or not, is going to be an amazing thing,” Louise Davies said.
“And stop more families having to be in positions like my family were on that day.
“It has had such a profound impact on us and our lives.”
Sepsis survival rates can drop by as much as eight per cent every hour.
It is hoped that this innovative early warning system could lead to an increase in recovery and survival rates.