Burnet Institute’s Global Health Diagnostics Laboratory has been awarded a prestigious Longitude Prize Discovery Award to facilitate the development of a laboratory-based sepsis assay into a point-of-care test. The award will also support the Laboratory’s bid for a share in the Longitude Prize, a GB £10 million international competition run by innovation foundation Nesta and funding partner Innovate UK, to create an affordable, rapid, and easy-to-use test to diagnose bacterial infections. Led jointly by Associate Professor David Anderson and Ms Mary Garcia, Burnet’s Global Health Diagnostics Laboratory is one of 13 Discovery Award winners for 2017 from Australia, Belgium, India, Israel, the Netherlands, the USA and UK. “We are very excited by the potential of our new findings to make a major difference in the ability to diagnose sepsis, first with a laboratory test but now working towards point-of-care,” Associate Professor Anderson said. “Sepsis kills more than eight million people each year worldwide, with a particular burden in newborns and the elderly, and rapid diagnosis can help prevent these deaths while at the same time reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics, an important step in reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
“The Discovery Award will help us to finish our initial clinical studies in collaboration with the Intensive Care Unit at The Alfred hospital, and will allow us to begin the transition to a point-of-care version of the test.” With antimicrobial resistance forecast to cause 10 million deaths annually by 2050, the Longitude Prize challenge is to develop a transformative diagnostic test that will conserve antibiotics for future generations and revolutionise the delivery of global healthcare.
The test is required to be accurate, rapid, affordable, easy-to-use and available to anyone, anywhere in the world. It will identify when antibiotics are needed and, if so, which ones to use. Associate Professor Anderson said the Discovery Award is as valuable as much for its acknowledgement of his laboratory’s efforts to address microbial resistance as for the funding it provides. “Our work will directly lead to a sensitive point-of-care test for detecting the earliest immune responses to sepsis,” he said. “By having a sensitive and specific test that can detect these early signs, clinicians will be confident to rule out the need for presumptive, broad-spectrum antibiotic use in patients who may present with nothing more than a fever.“This would obviate the overuse of antibiotics while improving the appropriate early treatment of sepsis, saving lives and reducing antibiotic use at the same time.”
Funding for the 2017 Discovery Awards draws on a grant of GB £250,000 from global healthcare company, MSD. The title of the Discovery Award-winning project is ‘Going against the Flow’ and the team comprises Associate Professor Anderson, Riya Palchaudhuri, Prof Suzanne Crowe AM, Ms Garcia, Dr Clovis Palmer, and Ms Shirley Vallance and Dr Steve McGloughlin from The Alfred hospital Intensive Care Unit.