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Annually, 10 million people worldwide acquire bacterial or fungal infections in the bloodstream. This can rapidly progress to sepsis, a serious life-threatening condition with mortality rates of 28-50%.

Rapid identification of the causative pathogen and, preferably antibiotic resistance testing, is key to selecting the most effective antibiotics for treatment. Current diagnostic methods either take far too long or require specialised laboratories. Common practice therefore is to start treatment with a non-specific cocktail of antibiotics that might not be effective.

The Polaris platform (instrument + cartridges) will allow identification and antibiotic resistance testing within 2 hours. The key is a proprietary protocol for the rapid isolation of the pathogens from a large volume of blood followed by detection of pathogen DNA with multiplex PCR. The procedure has been fully automated in a closed cartridge, enabling testing by non-specialised hospital laboratories or, in the future, even at the bedside.

The short time-to-result can be a game changer, because it will allow clinicians to base their treatment decision on the actual test results. This will enable them to choose the best treatment strategy, thus preventing patients from developing sepsis. On the longer term, other molecular assays will also be automated on the same platform.