London: Researchers have developed a device that can diagnose 1,000 pathogens in the blood in just six hours and potentially help save thousands of lives each year.
The system called IRIDICA could change how doctors fight infectious diseases.
The origins of IRIDICA can be traced back to the mid-1990s, when researchers including Dave Ecker were working at a company called Isis Pharmaceuticals.
"Everyone was asking the wrong questions, taking existing technology and making individual tests for diseases. But with over 1,000 organisms causing disease in humans, you can't make 1,000 tests," said Ecker, who is now the divisional vice president of R&D for Abbott's Ibis Biosciences business.
"So we asked: Can we use our technology to say 'Give me a specimen and I'm going to tell you what infectious organisms are in it no matter what they are'" Ecker said.
In 2000, the group came up with the concept that would ultimately become IRIDICA: a universal pathogen detector that could detect disease directly from specimens, like blood or tissue, fastcoexist.Com reported.
Genetic material (some belonging to the sick human, some belonging to the pathogen) is extracted.
Copies of the pathogen's genetic material are created. Then, that material goes into a device called a mass spectrometer to figure out the molecular weight of the pathogen.
Once the molecular weight has been determined, that information is scanned against a database that has the AGCT counts of all the pathogens that cause disease in humans. The whole process takes about six hours.
The platform can diagnose all types of bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, and can also quickly figure out the specific organism causing a patient's sepsis - an infection that can kill within 15 hours, researchers said.