The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in the UK has developed a new test for sepsis which is now available for commercial licence and has the potential to improve survival rates.

Sepsis claims the lives of six million people each year, and is caused by an immune response triggered by infection. The new test has demonstrated an accuracy of 97% and could improve patient survival rates as it enables diagnosis and treatment to take place before symptoms appear.

The test relies on biomarkers to predict the presence of sepsis, and its accuracy has been demonstrated in a multi-year study of 4,385 surgery patients in Germany and the UK.

The Dstl lead scientist behind the innovation Dr Roman Lukaszewski said: “This breakthrough comes from many years of work in this area to help Service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line. By detecting sepsis earlier, the therapeutic window is extended, treatments are more effective, and survivability rates are potentially increased.

“In order to make this innovation available, Dstl has turned to its commercialisation organisation, Ploughshare Innovations, which is currently looking for a licensee to turn the invention into a product.”

The survival rate of a patient with sepsis drops by up to 8% per hour without treatment. If detected early enough then there is a significant increase in recovery and survival rates. The current bacterial diagnosis test for sepsis requires the patient to show symptoms but by this time the condition may already be too advanced. The bacterial test also takes several hours or even days for the results to be gathered, by which time a patient’s condition could have deteriorated.

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The new test has been designed to rectify these problems by providing fast and accurate results so that medical teams can have hours or even days of extra time to provide treatment.

UK Minister for Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew said: “This crucial breakthrough in sepsis treatment is an outstanding example of the pioneering research carried out by Dstl scientists and highlights how lessons learned on the battlefield can have a huge impact on improving the day-to-day lives of UK citizens.

“We continue to see how strong investment in defence results in knock-on benefits across a huge range of areas from revolutionary medicine to advanced mechanics.”

Ploughshare Innovations VP of commercialisation Dr Mark Gostock added: “This innovation is a step-change in the pre-determination of sepsis and could potentially help millions of people worldwide. We are keen to see it put to good use and are actively seeking partners to turn it into a product to allow earlier treatment of sepsis which in turn, improves survivability and reduces treatment costs.

Sepsis affects around 30 million people each year worldwide and is increasing at a rate of 8 – 13% each year. In the UK, it incurs costs of around £15bn and is responsible for more deaths than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

Around 30 million people each year are affect by sepsis and this is increasing at a rate of 8-13%. Costs of around £15bn are incurred in the UK due to the condition and it is responsible for more deaths than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.

The Ploughshare website has more information regarding the test’s licensing opportunities.