”Vårt mål är att minska dödligheten för patienter med sepsis”

Publicerad 12 oktober, 2020

Volkan Özenci , gruppledare för projektet som har som mål att utveckla en ny anordning för att förbättra prestanda hos blodkulturer vid detektion av mikroorganismer som orsakar sepsis, jobbar tillsammans med Alicia Wong och Jan Klingler på Institutionen för laboratoriemedicin på KI.

Volkans projekt får stöd från KI Innovations START-program och vi ställde honom några frågor om hans resa, hans lärdomar hittills och framtida planer för projektet.

Läs hela intervjun på engelska nedan:

The Research group Volkan Özenci consists of  Volkan as research group leader, working on the Division of Clinical Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. He works together with Alicia Wong, Postdoc, Organization affiliation: Klin Microbiology, Department H5 Department of Laboratory Medicine and Jan Klingler, Research assistant and Industrial Designer, Division of Clinical Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Volkan is receiving support from KI Innovations START team and we asked him a few questions about the journey, his learnings so far and the plans for the project.

Provide a short summary of the project / finding / asset that you intend to create impact from.

 Our aim is to develop a novel device to improve the performance of blood cultures in detection of microorganisms causing sepsis.

Sepsis is defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response. It is a frequent cause of severe disease and death globally. In Sweden the annual incidence of sepsis is 780/100 000 persons (ca 78000 persons/year) with a mortality rate between 10-40%. Practically speaking it is the final common pathway for how infections cause death. In addition, the health-care related cost due to sepsis is high and estimated to be around 407,000 SEK per patient in Sweden according to a recent study. Therefore, the World Health Assembly and the World Health Organization voted unanimously to declare sepsis as a global health priority in 2017.

The most important factor in reducing mortality rates and hospital-related costs in patients with sepsis is to start effective antimicrobial treatment as soon as possible. Effective antimicrobial treatment is only possible with detection, timely detection, and identification of the microorganism causing sepsis. Blood cultures (BCs) are a cornerstone of microbiological diagnostics and they remain the gold standard in identifying microbiological causative agents in sepsis.

It is known that the amount of blood collected is critical, and probably the most important variable in detection of microorganisms in blood cultures (BCs) and is currently measured by ocular inspection. Guidelines recommend collection of 8-10 ml blood for each BC bottle and using a total of four bottles. However,  in a recent study we showed that only 18 % of all bottles were filled with the recommended amount, proving the current method to be insufficient. Furthermore, the contamination of samples through skin flora poses a problem in causing false positive results.

Our research team is therefore working on the unmet need for an instrument for standardization of sample collection for microbiological diagnosis of sepsis. Successful implementation of the method will enable optimal sample collection while avoiding skin-flora contamination and thereby improve the yield of positive blood culture, which in turn will improve the treatment of patients with sepsis.

Who is the future user of the product / service that you aim to develop and what impact do you foresee that your invention could have?

 Our targeted consumers are medical institutions, such as hospitals and health care centers. The end users are the clinical staff with a main focus on nurses and doctors.

Our general mission is to improve patient care using the innovative approach of using synergy between academic clinical know-how and industrial design. In this specific case we foresee the development of a new tool that is clinically relevant and easily implemented in the daily workflow worldwide to increase the detection of sepsis and treatment of patients through faster and more accurate diagnostics.

Furthermore, we aim to address the high pressure that nurses are facing in their fast pace work environment.  By decreasing the active workload and taking the responsibility of imprecise ocular inspection and possible skin contamination off their shoulders we aim to provide better clinical results and furthermore increase employee satisfaction.

What is the current status of your project from an impact creation / commercialization point of view?

The present project was recently funded by Vinnova, Medtech4Health: Innovators in Healthcare and Care 2020. The first prototypes are produced. In-vitro studies are planned and will be performed when the prototype is functional. We have started working with the business plan and protection our intellectual property. The commercialization of the product will be made when the first clinical study results are evaluated.

What steps have you taken towards impact creation / commercialization?

We have described the clinical problem with low blood volume and its consequences in our previous studies. We are currently developing prototypes of our product in order to solve this serious problem. Designing a user-friendly and cost-effective product will lead to further collaboration with the academy and the industry.

What are your key learnings so far in relation to impact creation / commercialization?

We appreciate interprofessional collaborations as they enable us to define problems and needs from different perspectives. Designing and implementing a new medical product has led us to face many important challenges and opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. We have received crucial support from KI innovation mentors in achieving our primary goals.