April 16, 2024

Doctors say combining a simple blood test with artificial intelligence could help diagnose and identify sepsis more quickly patients at highest risk of serious complications.

Sepsis is a serious condition in which the body does not respond properly to infection. This can progress to septic shock, which can damage the lungs, kidneys, liver and other organs. When the damage is severe, it can lead to death, with an estimated 11 million sepsis-related deaths worldwide each year.

A new dual approach using a blood test and AI could catch the condition earlier and save lives, according to experts who combined the unique molecular signature of sepsis with AI tools to predict someone’s risk of organ failure and death.

Their findings will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona next month.

Dr Lisa Mellhammar, from Lund University in Sweden, said: “It is essential that patients with suspected sepsis are identified before the onset of organ failure. Given the challenges related to timely diagnosis and the fact that sepsis kills millions of people around the world every year, there is an urgent demand for an alternative approach.”

She said a blood test combined with a personalized risk model “has the potential to save lives by providing more accurate sepsis diagnosis and determining who may go on to develop more severe clinical manifestations”.

Researchers studied 1,364 plasma samples from adults admitted to the emergency department at Scania University Hospital with suspected sepsis between September 2016 and March 2023. Of the 1,073 patients with an infection, 913 had sepsis.

The team then analyzed proteins associated with the body’s immune response to sepsis to see if there was a pattern. They created molecular signatures from their analysis, which were used to train an AI model to predict who was likely to go into septic shock.

Patients were classified as low, medium and high risk of developing septic shock, with the technology able to show how increasing risk was associated with a higher mortality rate.

Researchers also identified panels of proteins that predicted dysfunction in six different organ types, including the heart, liver and kidneys. They then classified patients into five risk categories based on their likelihood of having organ dysfunction and infection, and their risk of dying.

Mellhammar added: ‘A rapid test that provides more accurate sepsis diagnosis and can also predict who is at greater risk of poorer outcomes now seems a real possibility. Any research like this needs clinical validation and many hurdles must be cleared before these biomarkers can be used in the clinic. But we see it as a tool that can be deployed globally as the future of early detection of sepsis.”

Dr Ron Daniels, the founder and joint chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “It is vital that we speed up the recognition of sepsis and identify which patients need the most immediate attention sooner, to ensure we can save more lives while we use antimicrobials. more wise

“This research has great potential to refine our understanding of sepsis and may over time help us redesign clinical systems. As the authors acknowledge, sepsis is a complex syndrome and this technology is not yet street-ready, but it is an important step in the right direction.”

It comes as NHS England prepares to introduce the first phase of “Martha’s reign” from next month. Ill patients and their loved ones will be given the right to get an urgent second opinion on their care as the initiative is initially accepted in 100 English hospitals from April at the start of the national rollout.

The launch is the direct result of pressure being put on politicians, NHS bosses and doctors by Merope Mills, a senior editor at the Guardian, and her husband Paul Laity tell the story of how their 13-year-old daughter, Martha, dies of sepsis in King’s College Hospital London in 2021.

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