Image showing bacteria next to blood cells in a blood vessel to illustrate what happens prior to sepsis setting in
Credit: Dr_Microbe/Getty Images

Independent research led by Pennsylvania State University shows Cytovale’s IntelliSep sepsis test is less costly and slightly more accurate than testing for procalcitonin, a widely available biomarker diagnostic for sepsis.

The researchers predicted that more than 95% of patients with sepsis would survive at a cost of less than $4000 per patient using the IntelliSep test.

Sepsis occurs when a serious infection leads to multiple organ failure in a short period of time. It can be deadly if not diagnosed quickly enough and about 350,000 people die from sepsis each year in the U.S.

“Sepsis remains a common and costly condition, both in terms of economic burden and lives lost in the United States and globally. Despite multiple barriers, rapid recognition is an integral component in the successful treatment of sepsis, as successful intervention is time-dependent,” write lead author Christopher Hollenbeak, a professor at PennState, and colleagues in the journal Critical Care Explorations.

“Increasingly, circulating biomarker measurements have been integrated into clinical care to improve the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, with mixed results. In particular, procalcitonin has been proposed as a clinical test to assist early identification of sepsis, despite modest sensitivity and specificity and data suggesting results do not influence clinical decision-making.”

IntelliSep was developed by biotech Cytovale and looks at white blood cell shape and structure to estimate risks of sepsis developing.

In this study, Hollenbeak and colleagues compared the accuracy and costs of IntelliSep with procalcitonin testing. They found that assuming a sepsis prevalence in tested patients of 16.9%, the IntelliSep test cost $3,849 per patient with an expected survival rate of 95.08%. In comparison, procalcitonin testing costs $4,656 per patient with a slightly lower survival rate of 94.98%.

Accurately diagnosing patients at risk of sepsis can not only save lives, but also helps save costs as patients who progress to full blown sepsis are both difficult and costly to treat.

“Admitting someone to the hospital is a serious decision,” Hollenbeak said. “It inconveniences the patient and costs a lot of money. In medical care, all doctors have to make decisions in the face of uncertainty, so they always need the best information possible. If emergency department doctors can get information quickly about the likelihood that someone has sepsis, that is going to be very useful to them.”

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