In vitro bacterial infection diagnostic test

Researchers at the University of Dundee have developed a sensitive, reproducible in vitro test to diagnose and measure the severity of chronic infections in patients.

Summary

  • Differentiation of bacterial infection from inflammation in sputum
  • Based on a suite of NETs biomarkers
  • Designed to inform correct treatment and so reduce antibiotic overuse
  • Unique COPD biobanks available

Background

For patients with life-threatening chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, cystic fibrosis (CF) and bronchiectasis the correct diagnosis of the cause of any exacerbation of their breathing difficulties is essential in obtaining timely and effective treatment. For clinicians, it is difficult to differentiate between an exacerbation of lung disease in a patient which is being caused by a bacterial infection and that caused by severe inflammation and/or a viral infection. It is common for such patients to be treated with antibiotics as well as steroids, contributing to overuse of antibiotics.During immune responses against bacterial and fungal infections in the lungs, neutrophils may deploy neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). The NETs physically trap extracellular pathogens, and act as a crucial defence against infection. Consequently, the ability to detect the presence of NETs can assist clinicians in differentiating between bacterial and fungal chronic infections versus viral infection or severe inflammation.

The Technology

Researchers and clinicians at the University of Dundee have developed a sensitive, reproducible in vitro test to diagnose and measure the severity of chronic infections in patients suffering from COPD and related illnesses, including cystic fibrosis, asthma and bronchiectasis. Using a novel combination of biomarkers, the researchers have demonstrated that NETs are more abundant in COPD patients with severe bacterial infection when compared to those with severe inflammation.

The measurement of NETs in sputum using this test also seems to identify patients with poorer lung function, lower quality of life and a higher risk of future exacerbations.

The Opportunity

The assay to detect NETs is currently used on sputum samples. The University is seeking commercial partners specifically to develop the test for use with other patient samples (such as csf) and into a point-of-care diagnostic, such as a dipstick test or lateral flow test.

IP Status

The technology is protected by patent application (GB1621945.3).

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For futher information, please contact:

research@dundee.ac.uk