The risk of sepsis mortality increases every hour an appropriate antibiotic therapy is held up. However, it takes several days to obtain results from blood cultures. Therefore, the Department of Biomedical Research is developing molecular diagnostic methods to provide rapid pathogen identification in whole blood samples.  

Patients with sepsis are initially treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics to cover the largest possible potential pathogen spectrum. Pathogen identification is commonly performed using blood cultures, which are, however, not compatible with antibiotic treatment and have a long time-to-result.


Rapid detection of pathogens

Scientists at the Department of Biomedical Research, teamed up with the Medical University of Innsbruck and ARES Genetics GmbH, working jointly on the improvement and expansion of molecular diagnostic methods. The researchers are investigating how long  pathogen DNA  remains detectable in the bloodstream after successful antibiotic treatment and in which ways it is modified. This is highly relevant in order to interpret molecular diagnostic results and to distinguish possible secondary infections from successfully treated infections. Furthermore, factors that inhibit the detection of pathogens in blood samples are examined, with the aim to increase sensitivity and to reduce the failure rates of molecular diagnostics.


Expanding the spectrum

"By taking our next step we want to find out whether next-generation sequencing can be used for the identification of pathogens directly from patient blood. For this purpose, existing enrichment methods of pathogen DNA have to be improved. These methods would expand the diagnostic possibilities considerably. In addition, we aim to elucidate whether it is possible to monitor mutations in the genome of pathogens that lead to resistance development almost in real time," says Matthias Pilecky, MSc.


Advanced Pathogen Detection in Blood Stream Infection (Pathogen Detection)

Funding: FFG Bridge

Duration: 2019–2022

Department: Biomedical Research

Project Lead: Matthias Pilecky, MSc,  Univ.-Prof. Dr. Viktoria Weber,

Partners: Medizinische Universität Innsbruck, Sektion Klinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, ARES Genetics GmbH

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