$1million NHMRC grant received for a sepsis rapid diagnosis test

The inspiring work of Perth researchers in developing a world first rapid test to diagnose sepsis has attracted some publicity in recent weeks.

Chief investigators are Associate Professor Rakesh Veedu, head of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics Research group at Perron Institute and Murdoch University’s Centre for Molecular Medicine and Innovative Therapeutics and Dr Andrew Currie, Senior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Immunology at Murdoch University.

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition which claims the lives of some 8,700 Australians each year. It occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues 

It can start anywhere – an infection from a small cut on the finger, for example. Initial symptoms can be mild then quickly worsen, creating a medical emergency. Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages, but early diagnosis is critically important because with every hour that antibiotic treatment is delayed the likelihood of death increases. 

Associate Professor Veedu has personal experience of the tragic reality of sepsis. Three years ago, this deadly blood infection took the life of his young niece.  

“She wasn’t diagnosed in time, and by the time she was in emergency it was too late because she was potentially suffering from multiple organ failure,” he said. 

Dr Currie is working to identify patterns of biological markers, such as elevated protein levels in someone’s blood, that indicate a sepsis infection. 

The test being developed will use aptamers – short, single-stranded DNA or RNA molecules that can bind to specific proteins. 

“Using Rakesh’s technology, we can quickly find the biomarkers – potentially within seconds,” Dr Currie said. 

“With sepsis, time is the enemy, so this could save many, many lives.” 

The ground-breaking work of this team is being funded by a $1 million “ideas” grant from the Federal Government via the National Health and Medical Research Council. 

Congratulations, A/Professor Veedu, Dr Currie and team. 

Read more in The West Australian article here…