Few people outside the medical profession have even heard of Sepsis, the third most common cause of death for hospitalized patients in the developed world, behind heart disease and cancer. 30% of the 1 million people afflicted each year die because a bacterial infection, originating anywhere in the body, has lead to Sepsis, an “overreaction” by the immune system causing destructive inflammation throughout the body, leading to multiple organ failure. Even the best intensive care units are challenged not only by finding an adequate treatment for the disease; but by simply being able to diagnose it before it is too late. While the condition is not unexpected amongst sick and elderly hospital patients, there have been an alarming number of recent cases where a young and healthy person has died within days as the result of a small scratch. Some of the lucky survivors have had multiple limbs amputated. The cause is a new wave of infections called community-acquired MRSA, a type of staph that is resistant to certain antibiotics, found not in hospitals but in the general population. Usually, doctors, seeing the first signs of an infection, prescribe a standard dose of antibiotics, not realizing until it’s too late that such a treatment is inadequate. By that point the infection has compromised multiple organs and even aggressive treatment cannot overwhelm the reaction. The following companies are developing new ways to combat this elusive and deadly condition:
Researchers at TCD’s Institute for Molecular Medicine at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin have developed a diagnostic test termed ‘PreSepsis’, which has the ability to predict patients at risk of developing septic shock following infection.