Introduction to the project

Integrated whole blood acoustophoresis and homogeneous nucleic acid detection cartridge for rapid sepsis diagnostics (ACUSEP)

Bacterial infections are quite common and usually not life-threatening. However, when dangerous bacteria enter the blood stream (so-called bacteremia) this might lead to sepsis. Sepsis is a serious illness causing up to 135 000 deaths per year in Europe.

A patient with sepsis must be treated immediately with broad-spectrum antibiotics because any delay in treatment would risk the patient’s life. Certainly, the rapid identification of the sepsis-causing bacteria is the key to choose the right antibiotic treatment. However, blood culture tests, which are the current standard method to detect and identify bacteria, take up to several days. The sooner the causative bacterium is identified and the patient has been medicated with the right antibiotic, the better are the chances for survival and recovery.

Thus, rapid and reliable bacteria tests are urgently needed to improve sepsis diagnosis and treatment. The objective of the ACUSEP project is therefore to develop a novel rapid sepsis test. We will use ultrasound waves to collect the bacteria directly from the patient’s blood sample. Following this enrichment step, the bacteria are identified by their genetic fingerprint. Our goal is to identify the bacteria within one hour and thereby substantially shorten the time to start of the right antimicrobial treatment.

ACUSEP was a 3.5-year research project (December 2010 – May 2014) funded by EU’s Seventh Framework Programme. Both university and industry partners were involved from three EU countries (Finland, Spain and Sweden). The project ended on 31 May 2014.