Sepsis Grand Challenge Finale

For many, September marks the end of summer and the start of the academic school year. For MCIRCC, patients and families are the heart of our motivations, and so September stands for Sepsis Awareness Month—a time to reflect on what sepsis is, what it does and how we can make a difference and save lives.

Sepsis is a complex health condition that affects over one million Americans per year, results in 250,000 annual deaths, and represents the highest annual treatment cost in U.S. hospitals at $20.3 billion.

Unlike other health problems, sepsis is a deadly medical condition, not a disease. Sepsis is what happens when the body’s natural response to infection or other insult becomes unbalanced, runs out of control, and leads to multiple organ damage—essentially “friendly fire” within the body. And because sepsis is rooted in this natural response, certain processes associated with sepsis must occur to keep the body’s biology in tact. In fact, past solutions that have attempted to block such natural processes have resulted in poor patient outcomes.

One could argue that the sepsis problem will not be solved by continuing to treat it like a pathogen or to rely on protocol-driven interventions, but instead, to focus on re-balancing the body’s system for return to normal using creative approaches to precision medicine.

MCIRCC’s heightened interest in sepsis began January 2014 with the kickoff of its first Grand Challenge program targeting the deadly condition. The Grand Challenge supports milestone-driven research with the goal of finding the “game changers” that demonstrate the greatest clinical and market potential.

Recognizing the need to revolutionize sepsis care and treatment at the patient bedside, MCIRCC’s Grand Challenge strategy focused on three core requirements to de-risk the science:

  • Solve a pervasive and urgent problem that will improve patient outcomes at reduced costs with the visionary end-goal of curing sepsis.

  • Form integrative teams comprised of clinicians and engineers to close the gap between scientific research, clinical workflow and patient care delivery.

  • Merge innovative, world-class research with commercialization fundamentals to attract industry partners for speed to market strategies.

MCIRCC’s grand plan was to seamlessly integrate research and clinical care within a continuous feedback and improvement loop to rapidly move the project teams from discovery insight to market impact.

The result of this grand experiment is a is a comprehensive portfolio comprised of therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health solutions that leverage new or granular health data to inform sepsis therapy. And this portfolio is growing. Departing from both historical and current research trends, these solutions have the potential to transform the way we diagnose, treat and monitor sepsis:

Portable Monitoring System for Early Detection of Sepsis

  • Kayvan Najarian, PhD (Medical School) & Kenn Oldham, PhD (College of Engineering)

  • Awarded MTRAC Kickstart funding; MTRAC for Life Sciences submission under review

Sepsis Endotheliopathy Assessment Panel

  • Rodney Daniels, MD (Medical School) & Xudong (Sherman) Fan, PhD (College of Engineering)

  • MTRAC Kickstart submission under review

Point-of-Care Platform Using Redox as a Sepsis Biomarker

  • Rodney Daniels, MD (Medical School) & Shuichi Takayama, PhD (College of Engineering)

  • Awarded MTRAC Kickstart funding; MTRAC for Life Sciences submission under review

Immunotherapy & Immunophenotyping for Sepsis Treatment

  • Jean Nemzek, DVM, MS (Medical School) & Jianping Fu, PhD (College of Engineering)

  • Exploring other avenues for continuation funding including the Center for Discovery of New Medicines

Real-Time Ultrasound Lung Strain Measurement Device

  • Jonathan Rubin, MD, PhD (Medical School) & Cheri Deng, PhD (College of Engineering)

  • Awarded MTRAC Kickstart funding; MTRAC for Life Sciences submission under review; SBIR submission under review with good score

Rapid Determination of Bacteremia & Antibiotic Resistance in Sepsis

  • J. Scott VanEpps, MD, PhD (Medical School) & Nicholas A. Kotov, PhD (College of Engineering)

  • MTRAC for Life Sciences submission under review

In the end, if we can find a solution that works for the septic patient given all its complexities, these technologies could easily translate to trauma, cardiac arrest and traumatic brain injury, to name a few. The Grand Challenge program gives MCIRCC the opportunity to build platform technologies and approaches that save lives and restore health.

CLICK HERE to learn more about sepsis and MCIRCC’s Critical Care Grand Challenge: Sepsis Innovation Portfolio