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Bloodstream infection breakthrough speeds up diagnosis time and accuracy

A new bloodstream infection test created by researchers at UC Irvine (UCI) in the US can speed up diagnosis times with unprecedented accuracy, allowing physicians to treat patients with potentially deadly ailments more promptly and effectively.

A new bloodstream infection test created by researchers at UC Irvine (UCI) in the US can speed up diagnosis times with unprecedented accuracy, allowing physicians to treat patients with potentially deadly ailments more promptly and effectively.

The UCI team has developed a new technology called Integrated Comprehensive Droplet Digital Detection. In as little as 90 minutes, IC 3D can detect bacteria in millilitres of blood with single-cell sensitivity and no cell culture is needed, reports Medical News Today.

"We are extremely excited about this technology because it addresses a long-standing unmet medical need in the field," Weian Zhao, UCI assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences told Nature Communications. "As a platform technology, it may have many applications in detecting extremely low-abundance biomarkers in other areas, such as cancers, HIV and, most notably, Ebola."

Bloodstream infections are a major cause of illness and death. In particular, infections associated with antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are a growing health problem in the US and worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than two million people a year globally get antibiotic-resistant blood infections, with about 23,000 deaths. The extremely high mortality rate for blood infections is due, in part, to the inability to rapidly diagnose and treat patients in the early stages.

The IC 3D technology differs from other diagnostic techniques in that it converts blood samples directly into billions of very small droplets. Fluorescent DNA sensor solution infused into the droplets detects those with bacterial markers, lighting them up with an intense fluorescent signal.

A UCI spinoff, Velox Biosystems, is now further developing the IC 3D technology.