Multimillion investment in sepsis research at the University by the Knowledge Foundation


A research project at the University of Skövde devoted to future sepsis diagnostics has been awarded SEK 2.6 million by the Knowledge Foundation. "This is great news, and it means so much for our continued ability to conduct research as we can now build upon the earlier results from our sepsis research", says Anna-Karin Pernestig, researcher and Senior Lecturer in Bioscience.

Several research projects are currently being conducted at the University of Skövde into issues concerning sepsis, which is also known as blood poisoning. One of these projects is studying future sepsis diagnostics, and is called miRSeps. This project has now been awarded funding of SEK 2.6 million by the Knowledge Foundation. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that develops as a result of the body's response to infection. The condition often arises extremely quickly – sometimes in just a few hours. It is, however, often difficult to diagnose. This is because the symptoms are quite diffuse and can be hard to distinguish from those of other conditions, such as influenza or food poisoning.

– Mortality rates are high, and sepsis actually kills as many people as HIV, breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, says Diana Tilevik, researcher and Senior Lecturer in Systems Biology.

Project with several partners

The researchers at the University of Skövde now hope to find methods that will enable the diagnosis of sepsis at an earlier stage, thereby reducing mortality rates. With every hour's delay in the diagnosis – and treatment with antibiotics – of sepsis, there is an increased risk of death.

– In previous research projects, we have developed prospective multimarker panels with the potential to identify patients with bacteria-derived sepsis. These multimarker panels consist of different combinations of biological and clinical markers. In the new project, we will be validating these multimarker panels by analysing further patient samples using the new qPCR technology, which has an extremely high degree of analytical sensitivity, and we will also develop quality controls for our multimarker panels, explain the two researchers.

The project at the University of Skövde will be conducted in close collaboration with Skaraborg Hospital and its clinical laboratory Unilabs AB, TATAA Biocenter AB and QIAGEN AB. Representatives of the Swedish Institute for Standards and Chalmers Innovation Office will also participate in the project. The project is planned to be conducted during a period of three years (2020-2022) at a total cost of SEK 4.8 million, of which SEK 2.6 million is financed by the Knowledge Foundation. The Knowledge Foundation funds research and competence development at Sweden's university colleges and new universities with the purpose of strengthening Sweden's competitiveness.

Diana Tilevik and Anna-Karin Pernestig