“Test can identify patients in intensive care at greatest risk of life-threatening infections”
“Infections in intensive care units (ICU) tend to be caused by organisms, such as multi-resistant gram-negative bacteria found in the gut, that are resistant to frontline antibiotics. Treating such infections means relying on broad spectrum antibiotics, which run the risk of breeding further drug-resistance, or antibiotics that have toxic side-effects.
Estimates of the proportion of patients in ICU who will develop a secondary infection range from one in three to one in two; around a half of these will be pneumonia. However, some people are more susceptible than others to such infections – evidence suggests that the key may lie in malfunction of the immune system.
In a study published in the journal Intensive Care Medicine, a team of researchers working across four sites in Edinburgh, Sunderland and London, has identified markers on three immune cells that correlate with an increased risk of secondary infection. The team was led by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh and biotech company BD Bioscience.
“These markers help us create a ‘risk profile’ for an individual,” explains Dr Andrew Conway Morris from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge. “This tells us who is at greatest risk of developing a secondary infection.
“In the long term, this will help us target therapies at those most at risk, but it will be immediately useful in helping identify individuals to take part in clinical trials of new treatments.”
Read more: University of Cambridge