New Device Diagnoses Sepsis in Minutes

Researchers at MIT have created an automated microfluidics device that drastically decreases the time needed to diagnose sepsis.

Biochip Sensor / Image: MIT
Biochip Sensor / Image: MIT

Sepsis is the number one killer in U.S. hospitals, claiming nearly 250,000 lives each year. It occurs when an immune response creates a domino effect of inflammation that if gone undiagnosed can lead to septic shock that shuts down vital organs. Traditionally, it is diagnosed with the help of vital signs, blood tests, and imaging and lab tests, which can take a long time. However, a recent MIT News article reported on a new diagnostic method that could save lives by dramatically accelerating the process.

A team at MIT created a fluidics-based system that automatically detects levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a protein biomarker found in that blood and early indicator of sepsis. The device uses just 5 microliters of blood, which is roughly a quarter of the volume drawn from a finger prick. Doctors just load a blood sample into the device, press a button, and 25 minutes later they know the IL-6 concentration.

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