A new fast-track blood test that can detect sepsis in five minutes could save thousands of lives. The revolutionary test has just been approved in Europe and could be used in NHS hospitals next year to prevent deaths.
The initial breakthrough for the technology came in 2012 when Swiss researchers found that a protein called pancreatic stone protein (PSP) in the blood is only raised in patients with sepsis.
We all have some of this protein in our blood, but studies have shown that someone with sepsis has dramatically higher levels.
Scientists have now developed a test for it: the abioSCOPE is roughly the size of a domestic coffee machine and can be used by patients' bedsides in A&E and intensive care units. To carry out the test, a single drop of blood is taken from a patient's finger and mixed with a chemical that helps the abioSCOPE work.
The sample is then put in the abioSCOPE machine, which analyses the blood. The blood interacts with sensors that detect PSP levels. Test results are displayed on a screen and can be transferred wirelessly to hospital records.
This entire process takes only five minutes. Any test that can help us identify sepsis earlier is likely to help save lives so this is definitely a step forward.