There has been a significant drive in recent years for the development of rapid diagnostics, specifically for sepsis, as there is a crucial time window in which patients need to be diagnosed and treated. Sepsis is defined as a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. The patient's immune system goes into overdrive setting off a series of reactions including widespread inflammation. Sepsis is the leading cause of death from infection, especially if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Rapid, accurate and simple tests are still lacking for sepsis. Diagnosis is an essential part of all healthcare, and sepsis is no exception, and although clinical laboratories offer sensitive, specific assays, such as blood culture and high-throughput immunoassays, they are often time and labour intensive, costly, and dependent on well-trained operators. Point-of-care diagnostics on the other hand, can offer rapid results at site, enabling informed treatments; however, these technologies are still in development. Consequently, for example, antibiotics for suspected bacterial infections can be prescribed without positive diagnosis (increasing the potential risk of antimicrobial resistance), or not prescribed at all when they are really needed (i.e. when sepsis goes undiagnosed).
The MIMIC-nano sensors will move beyond the current state-of-the-art by developing minimally invasive sensors with dense arrays of nanoneedles that can sequester and detect targeted biomarkers from interstitial fluid through the development of 'synthetic antibodies' by synthesising molecularly imprinted conductive polymers. The MIMIC-nano sensors will accurately and quickly detect biomarkers specific to inflammation from sepsis, ultimately resulting in optimised diagnosis and treatments. Bringing this need to point-of-care could transform the way patients are diagnosed and treated for antimicrobial infections in the future.