A Broad-Spectrum Infection Diagnostic that Detects Pathogen-Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) in Whole Blood
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BACKGROUND: Blood cultures, and molecular diagnostic tests that directly detect pathogen DNA in blood, fail to detect bloodstream infections in most infected patients. Thus, there is a need for a rapid test that can diagnose the presence of infection to triage patients, guide therapy, and decrease the incidence of sepsis. METHODS: An Enzyme-Linked Lectin-Sorbent Assay (ELLecSA) that uses magnetic microbeads coated with an engineered version of the human opsonin, Mannose Binding Lectin, containing the Fc immunoglobulin domain linked to its carbohydrate recognition domain (FcMBL) was developed to quantify pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) in whole blood. This assay was tested in rats and pigs to explore whether it can detect infections and monitor disease progression, and in prospectively enrolled, emergency room patients with suspected sepsis. These results were also compared with data obtained from non-infected patients with or without traumatic injuries. RESULTS: The FcMBL ELLecSA was able to detect PAMPS present on, or released by, 85% of clinical isolates representing 47 of 55 different pathogen species, including the most common causes of sepsis. The PAMP assay rapidly (<1h) detected the presence of active infection in animals, even when blood cultures were negative and bacteriocidal antibiotics were administered. In patients with suspected sepsis, the FcMBL ELLecSA detected infection in 55 of 67 patients with high sensitivity (>81%), specificity (>89%), and diagnostic accuracy of 0·87. It also distinguished infection from trauma-related inflammation in the same patient cohorts with a higher specificity than the clinical sepsis biomarker, C-reactive Protein. CONCLUSION: The FcMBL ELLecSA-based PAMP assay offers a rapid, simple, sensitive and specific method for diagnosing infections, even when blood cultures are negative and antibiotic therapy has been initiated. It may help to triage patients with suspected systemic infections, and serve as a companion diagnostic to guide administration of emerging dialysis-like sepsis therapies.
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