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With faster diagnosis to targeted sepsis therapy
The Horizon 2020 project, in which Danube University Krems is involved, investigates more efficient diagnostic procedures
Approximately 7,500 people die of sepsis every year in Austria. Sepsis is a systemic inflammatory reaction to an infection. In the EU-financed research project “Next Generation Sepsis Diagnosis” ten international partners - among them Danube University Krems - are investigating methods to improve the diagnosis of this serious illness. The goal is to develop a swift procedure that will reduce the time required to identify the pathogens to hours instead of days. It will be applied where sepsis is the most common cause of death: hospital intensive care units.

The “Next Generation Sepsis Diagnosis” project, launched in February 2016 in the framework of the EU research funding program Horizon2020, aims to develop a fast detection procedure to identify bacteria and fungi as sepsis pathogens. The goal is to make the so-called point-of-care procedure available directly in intensive care units. Not only must the pathogens be diagnosed quickly, the procedure should also provide information about the germs’ possible resistance to antibiotics. Moreover, it has to be simple to use. At the moment, pathogen detection is performed by means of blood cultures in the laboratory, a time-consuming procedure that can take between one to several days. “Quicker pathogen detection directly at the patient’s bedside would enable a much more targeted therapy,” says Univ.-Prof. Dr. Viktoria Weber, Head of the Center for Biomedical Technology at Danube University Krems and the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Innovative Therapeutic Approaches in Sepsis. “This project aims to reduce the time to a result to between one and three hours,” adds Weber, who is participating in the research project for Danube University Krems.


Sepsis is the most common cause of death in intensive care units
Two thirds of all sepsis cases occur in hospitals. Sepsis is one of the most common causes of death in intensive care units. The cause of this serious, potentially life-threatening illness is the body’s own immune system reacting uncontrollably to bacterial, fungal or viral infections. Sepsis is not a localized inflammation, it spreads to the entire circulatory system. The progression of sepsis is characterized by inflammation mediators released by immune cells in the blood after being activated by so-called pathogen-associated molecular patterns, i.e. structures on the surface of bacteria or fungi. The inflammation mediators attract, for example, more immune cells in an attempt to fight the infection locally. However, this process can result in damage to the surrounding tissue, the surface of the blood vessels (endothelium,) activate blood clotting and damage organs to the point of organ failure.

Inflammation mediator research results are incorporated
The CD Lab for Innovative Therapeutic Approaches in Sepsis and the company Cube Dx are collaborating to develop procedures to swiftly diagnose inflammation mediators in the blood of sepsis patients. Here, too, the aim is to make the procedure easy to use so that it can be implemented in intensive care units. The findings from this collaborative research will be incorporated in the EU research project.

“Next Generation Sepsis Diagnosis” runs for four years and involves ten partners. The project is coordinated and led by the Danish Technical University in Copenhagen. Besides Danube University Krems, companies and universities in Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic and Germany are involved in the project.

The Project:
Title: Next Generation Sepsis Diagnosis

The Partners:
DTU Nanotech & National Food Institute, Technical University Denmark
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
TATAA Biocenter, Göteborg, Sweden
Scandinavian Micro Biodevices, Denmark
Cube Dx GmbH, Austria
Unilabs Högskolan i Skövde, Sweden
Charles University, Prague
Danube University Krems
Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V.


Duration: 1 February 2016 to 31 January 2020