Bio-medical engineers designed a microfluidic chip for early detection of deadly blood infection

microfluidic chip

Microfluidic Chip

Bio-medical engineers developed a rapid test using a single drop of blood for early detection of the sepsis. The microfluidic chip could enable early intervention for this life-threatening complication, which accounts for the most deaths worldwide.

Sepsis, a deadly illness caused by the body having an intense immune response to a bacterial infection. The cells and chemicals released by the immune system, instead of stopping the infection, overwhelm the body to cause blood clots, leaky blood vessels, and complete organ failure and death. Normally, sepsis detected by monitoring patients’ vital signs, such as temperature and blood pressure.

Researchers explained that the chip designed to speed up the diagnosis of sepsis with the goal of initiating treatment at the first signs of trouble. The chip detects immune system factors mobilizing in the blood to fight the infection before the patient shows symptoms. The device detects a surface marker called CD64 on the surface of a specific white blood cell called a neutrophil.

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The team developed the technology to detect CD64 because it is on the surface of the neutrophils to surge in response to infection and cause the organ-damaging inflammation, which is the hallmark of sepsis.

The researchers tested the microchip with anonymous blood samples from patients. Blood drawn and analyzed with the chip when a patient appeared to develop a fever. They could continue to check the patients CD64 levels over time as the clinicians monitored the patients’ vital signs.


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The group found that CD64 levels increasing or decreasing correlated with a patient’s vital signs getting worse or better, respectively. This was a good indication that the rapid test for CD64 levels appears to be a promising approach for quickly identifying the patients that are most at risk for progressing into sepsis.

Researchers now working to incorporated several additional markers of inflammation into the rapid-testing device to increase the accuracy of predicting whether a patient is likely to develop sepsis and to be able to monitor a patient’s response to treatment.

More information: [Scientific Reports]