Innovative Diagnostics - Peter M. Keller

It can take up to several days to detect the pathogen responsible for blood poisoning (sepsis). A lot of time is lost in current tests due to the need to grow bacteria. We are working on a process that is substantially faster because it can isolate pathogens straight from blood samples. Our method uses synthetic antibody fragments – known as sybodies – that bind to pathogens. Our collaborators in Zürich have already developed sybodies against structures specifically found on all clinically relevant strains of the E. coli, K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa bacteria. Our aim is now to develop a rapid test in patient blood to capture these pathogens with the developed sybodies. In quick and efficient steps bound pathogens will then be analyzed by counting individual cells and tested for antibiotic resistance.

In parallel we will evaluate new FDA cleared laboratory methods for rapid sepsis diagnostics such as the T2 Biosystems, a system that can identify bacteria and main resistance genes directly from whole blood of patients in about 4 hours. Such innovative culture independent diagnostics enable earlier effective antibiotic therapy at the great benefit of patients.

In the same interest of reducing delay of sepsis diagnosis our microbiology laboratory has recently implemented a 24-hours reporting of blood cultures. Together with the intensive care we will investigate the influence of this faster reporting on sepsis patient survival, morbidity and duration of stay.