Sepsis is a serious medical condition that is not given enough attention by the masses. It claims a staggering amount of lives every year – even outdoing cancer – and is more common than a heart attack, but is frequently misdiagnosed. The condition is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection that essentially does the opposite of what is meant to and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
Noting World Sepsis Day, Sepset Biosciences Inc., a spin-out company of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) in collaboration with Dr. Robert Hancock at The University of British Columbia, is raising awareness about sepsis. It was declared a Global Health Priority by the World Health Organization in 2017.
As many as 80 per cent of sepsis deaths in hospitals could be prevented with rapid diagnosis and treatment. Sepset Biosciences is developing a novel rapid diagnostic test that will enable health care professionals to provide earlier and more targeted treatment of sepsis.
Sepset’s blood-based test works by detecting a unique biomarker signature based on the body’s immune response rather than the presence of a pathogen. Mortality from sepsis increases by 8 per cent for every hour that treatment is delayed. Current methods to diagnose sepsis take more than 24 hours, by which time patients are often well on their way towards tissue damage, organ failure, and death.
“Sepsis is a global problem and we need a better and faster way of detecting sepsis to save hundreds of thousands of lives around the globe. After receiving promising results from an initial pilot study, we initiated a multi-country, observational prospective clinical study last year to validate and refine Sepset’s proprietary gene signature to quickly and accurately identify patients with sepsis,” says Prof. Bob Hancock, co-founder of Sepset.
Dr. Olga Pena, co-inventor of the technology and coordinator of the Sepset clinical study adds, “We aim to complete review of the results in 2019. A successful study will allow us to define a commercial pathway for this much-needed diagnostic test.”
Sepsis causes the hospitalization of more than 18 million people around the world every year, including 30,000 Canadians, with a jaw-dropping 30 per cent mortality rate while leaving most survivors suffering from long-term, physical and physiological effects. Many patients diagnosed with sepsis require care in the ICU, placing a considerable burden on the health care system. The total cost of treating sepsis in Canada amounts to $325 million annually. Despite the staggering number of Sepsis patients and the devastating consequences caused by this illness, only 29 per cent of Canadians are aware of this condition. With this being World Sepsis Day, hopefully, more awareness will spread and the Sepset’s diagnostic test will catch sepsis before it does any permanent damage to patients.