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Engineering a lab on a chip to cut sepsis toll


A multi-disciplinary team of Brunel academics is to be at the forefront of a new initiative to cut the annual avoidable deaths of 37,000 patients in the UK from blood poisoning and save the NHS up to £2billion each year.

With partners BJS Biotechnologies life science instrumentation company and St George’s, University of London, the aim is to slash the precise identification of the bug from days to under two hours.

Currently patients are given broad spectrum antibiotics on diagnosis in a scatter gun approach. The new test will rapidly identify the exact pathogen allowing doctors to precisely tailor treatments in a “magic bullet” approach.

The move has been welcomed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson as a further sign of how London’s life sciences sector is thriving. He said: “London is a leading city globally for life-changing science and that is in no small part down to energetic companies like BJS Biotechnologies collaborating with our unrivalled academic and research base to deliver new therapies and better healthcare for us all."

The Brunel team is headed by Professor Wamadeva Balachandran. He said: “Our focus will be the microfluidic cartridge design and the analysis of trial data. The team here has a history of innovation and following substantial investment now has excellent facilities for developing molecular diagnostic devices. We believe this project will lead to a real breakthrough in what is in effect a war against sepsis by providing rapid and reliable assessment at the actual point of care.”

Professor Balachandran will be assisted by Dr Manos Karteris and Dr Ruth Mackay.