Wiltshire scientists developing predictive sepsis test for Covid-19 patients

Wiltshire scientists developing predictive sepsis test for Covid-19 patients

Published by Henrietta Creasey at 9:46am 24th June 2020.

3 minute read

The MOD is funding the project which sees a medical diagnostics company based at Porton Down Science Park develop a revolutionary test.

Ploughshare Innovations, a Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) spin-out firm, has awarded £200,000 to Presympton Health.

The money will be used to develop a test to predict whether Covid-19 patients will develop sepsis before symptoms appear.

The Sepsis research is based on 10 years of work conducted at Dstl.

This research suggests the test will be able to determine whether a patient will develop Sepsis, life threatening infection, up to three days before symptoms appear.

Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said:

"It is encouraging to see Dstl partnering with the private sector to spearhead vital scientific knowledge that will help many coronavirus patients during this pandemic.

"Dstl scientists are some of the UK’s best and brightest minds. We are grateful for their commitment to developing powerful medical technology that will save lives across the country."

Six months will now be spent developing the prototype diagnostic test. 

This will include trials with coronavirus patients and testing samples from a Dstl biobank. 

Up to 300 patients are expected to be involved in the trial, with a further 200 samples from the biobank being used to establish the test’s effectiveness.

Gary Aitkenhead, Chief Executive of Dstl describes it as a "unique concept" that "has the potential to improve the lives of thousands."

scientists Pixabay
The predictive sepsis tests will help coronavirus patients.

Roman Lukaszewski, lead scientist on the Sepsis work at Dstl said:

"This funding is fantastic news. It will see a programme of work that is backed by the most comprehensive Sepsis study ever conducted and one that I have personally been involved with for more than 10 years finally come to fruition. It will be an amazing achievement and will have benefits for the treatment of Sepsis on a global scale."


Sepsis has been linked to a number of coronavirus fatalities. 

A recent Lancet article which analysed the outbreak in Wuhan, China found that Sepsis was the most frequently observed complication and that all Wuhan patients who lost their lives to coronavirus by February 2020 had Sepsis.

Iain Miller, Presymptom Health’s CEO, believes their work will make a huge difference.

"We are confident this technology will provide vital and life-saving information when it is most needed."

laboratory scientist pixabay
Six months will now be spent developing the prototype diagnostic test


Ploughshare Innovations is the technology transfer office for Dstl and is responsible for the commercialisation of the test.

The company admits the funding is an unusual step for them.

Hetti Barkworth-Nanton, Ploughshare’s CEO, said:

"It is unusual for Ploughshare to make investments such as this, however, given how much potential this technology has we saw the value in accelerating its development.

"Beyond coronavirus, the test will have the potential to help with the treatment of the 49 million people worldwide affected by Sepsis every year, and to also prepare us for future pandemics."


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