27 January 2020

Rapid diagnosis of sepsis

The compact device diagnoses sepsis in a couple of minutes

Sergey Kolenov, Hi-tech+

The device developed by Swiss scientists is the key to saving many lives. Sepsis is developing rapidly, and there have been no quick diagnostic tools so far. This condition is the main cause of death in hospitals.

Sepsis is a rapidly developing inflammatory reaction in response to bacterial infection. Often this condition threatens the patient's life. According to some reports, sepsis is the main cause of death in hospitals and one of the top ten causes of death in the world.

In the treatment of sepsis, every hour lost increases the risk of death by 8%. That is why it is especially important to make a diagnosis quickly. Unfortunately, existing methods do not always allow achieving sufficient efficiency – some analyses take up to 72 hours.

Specialists from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne presented their approach to solving this problem. The team, whose work is described in the press release of Portable device helps doctors diagnose sepsis faster, has developed an optical biosensor that detects sepsis in just a few minutes.

Article by Belushkin et al. Rapid and Digital Detection of Inflammatory Biomarkers Enabled by a Novel Portable Nanoplasmonic Imager published in the journal Small

The base of the device is a thin sheet of gold pierced with tiny holes. The special properties of the surface make it possible to identify biomarkers of sepsis in a blood sample using a simple LED and a camera.

To perform the analysis, it is necessary to add special nanoparticles designed to capture biomarkers to the sample, and then distribute the solution over the sensor surface. Any particles with captured markers will be captured by holes with antibodies.


When the LED is turned on, such holes will not let light through, so the device will determine from the camera image whether there are biomarkers of sepsis in the sample and what their concentration is.

In the experiment, scientists were able to confirm that the new technique actually detects the presence in the blood serum of two important biomarkers related to sepsis – procalcitonin and C-reactive protein.

The researchers hope that the inexpensive and compact device will become a valuable addition for hospitals and ambulances. Its use will minimize the risk of sepsis and save many lives.

Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their development, based on microfluidic technologies, reveals this condition by a drop of blood in 25 minutes.

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