Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham is playing host to a new blood test trial, which can predict sepsis days before patients even show any symptoms.
Researched over the course of 10 years at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) in Porton Down, Salisbury, it is now being opened up to trial, with up to 600 patients admitted to hospital with respiratory tract infections being given the option to participate.
Sepsis is the immune system’s overreaction to an infection or injury and is associated with life-threatening organ dysfunction.
Around 49m people a year contract sepsis worldwide, with roughly 48,000 deaths in the UK each year.
The trials are being led by Dr Paul Schmidt and his team at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, with two other sites anticipated to go live during the summer.
Anoop Chauhan, executive director of research at the trust, said: ‘I am delighted that Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust is leading on this exciting, innovative and vital research using state of the art pioneering technology.
‘We are incredibly grateful for the support and involvement of our patients in research to help with the fight against COVID and sepsis.
‘This research will be vital in identifying sepsis quickly and early in order to help save many more lives.’
The initial trials will last 12 months and will include samples taken from both patients and a DSTL biobank.
It is hoped that the blood test will be available for a broader NHS roll-out within two years.
If successful, the test could also identify sepsis arising from other infections before symptoms appear, which could potentially include future waves of Covid-19.
The test should then be valid for patients with any condition that leaves them vulerable to sepsis.
Dr Roman Lukaszewski, the lead DSTL scientist behind the innovation, said: ‘It is incredible to see this test, which we had originally begun to develop to help service personnel survive injury and infection on the front line, is now being used for the wider UK population, including those fighting Covid-19.’
The groundwork laid by DSTL will be taken forward by Presymptom Health, a government spin-out company that will further develop the test.