Quicker sepsis diagnosis may be a step closer

MRSA bacteria

When bacteria such as MRSA, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus(shown) spur an intense, whole-body immune response called sepsis, it can be deadly. An analysis identifying genes linked with sepsis may lead to a faster diagnosis.



Tracking the activity of 11 genes linked with sepsis may lead to a quicker diagnosis for the condition.

Sepsis is a fast-acting, whole-body inflammatory response to infectious pathogens. It sickens more than 1 million people in the United States each year. But differentiating sepsis from noninfectious inflammation as a result of surgery or blunt force trauma is challenging. In a new study, scientists analyzed genetic data from 663 critically ill patients with inflammation from either sepsis or trauma and identified 11 genes that distinguished sepsis inflammation from the other type. The results appear May 13 in Science Translational Medicine.

Understanding the activity of those 11 genes and its link with sepsis could help doctors develop a blood test to diagnose the condition days sooner than current methods, the scientists say.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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