Sepsis Matters event 2018

Published: 22/3/19

NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative and our collaborators gathered the views of the public on an innovative portable device for diagnosing Sepsis.

On the 3rd October 2018 the NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative (Newcastle MIC) hosted a “Sepsis Matters” event for the Valuing Our Intellectual Capital & Experience (VOICE) research support group, a network of research engaged citizens based at Newcastle University.

The event was a collaboration between the Newcastle MIC, The UK Sepsis Trust, Newcastle Hospitals and Anasyst Ltd., a local company based in Teesside. It was an opportunity to involve the group in the research and development of a new medical device for Sepsis and educate the participants about this life-threatening condition.

Anyone at any age is at risk of Sepsis which is caused by our immune system going into overdrive to combat a spreading severe bacterial infection. The group learnt that not only is Sepsis more common than a heart attack but it is a leading cause of death: each year 44,000 – 68,000 people die of Sepsis, this is around the capacity of St. James’ Park football stadium.

The key to recovery from Sepsis is treatment with the most appropriate antibiotic within the first or so called “golden” hour. However Ewan Hunter, consultant in infectious diseases at Newcastle Hospitals, explained that Sepsis is currently diagnosed using laboratory tests which have a long turnaround time. Symptoms can be monitored at the bedside but they are similar to those associated with viral and fungal infections, which should not be treated with antibiotics. Ewan stated that the “holy grail” would be a new test which would quickly and reliably detect bacterial infection so health professionals would know whether to start antibiotic treatment.

Zulf Ali, CEO of Anasyst, discussed how the Newcastle MIC are supporting the development of his company’s portable device for diagnosing Sepsis. Through speaking to healthcare professionals, the Newcastle MIC are building a map to describe the sequence of interactions a patient with suspected Sepsis experiences as they navigate through the healthcare system. This is determining what parameters the device should measure and where the test will have the most benefit to patients.

The test could potentially be conducted in the community. This would enable a patient, if they were quickly declining, to receive a broad dose of antibiotics in the ambulance on the way to hospital during the “golden hour”, increasing the patient’s chance of survival. The test could be repeated in the hospital to identify the specific bacterial infection driving the Sepsis response. This would enable the treatment to be switched to a more specific antibiotic increasing the chances of a speedier recovery and stopping the overuse of inappropriate antibiotics.

After the presentations, the VOICE group shared their thoughts on the research. They liked the fact that the test only needs a finger prick of blood and it could potentially be used in walk-in centres and General Practices. The group were happy to wait for as long as it takes to get an accurate test result as long as they could access treatment quickly. We also conducted a before and after survey to gage public understanding in this area. We were pleased that, by the end of the session, participants had increased their knowledge of Sepsis and appropriate use of antibiotics.

An example of a question asked in the before and after survey with the correct answer marked with the asterisk (*)