It is scary to think that we are all at risk for life-threatening sepsis since a broad range of predisposing factors can set the stage, from something as simple as a cut or more serious like a surgical procedure.

Sepsis remains one of the worldwide leading causes of morbidity and mortality. The surest way to prevent these deaths is early diagnosis and timely intervention with appropriate therapies. A key strategy underpinning this aim is to identify which patients are at risk of mounting an overwhelming, potentially fatal response to infection.

During this afternoon’s symposium, “Sepsis: Novel Biomarkers, New Technology and Predictive Analytics,” the vital role of the laboratory for detecting and managing sepsis will be discussed. No existing biomarkers predict outcomes with high precision and accuracy, so the exciting work being presented today represents a step in the right direction.

T. Scott Isbell, PhD, will speak on the promise of harnessing predictive analytics to better manage sepsis. He will explore how laboratory medicine can develop clinical decision support tools based on predictive analytics. A disease specific condition/syndrome such as sepsis is just one area in which predictive analytics has the potential for making a positive impact. Imagine the substantive effect labs could have on clinical outcomes if we could predict which patients will experience sepsis.

Sepsis is regarded as a neutrophil- dependent inflammatory condition; David Ford, PhD, will discuss how chlorinated lipids are formed in the neutrophils and how these modified lipids may play a role in sepsis pathophysiology. The identification of these unique molecules suggests their potential as biomarkers of the pro-inflammatory role of neutrophils in sepsis.

A different feature of neutrophils—changes in their mechanical properties upon activation as a result of infection or stress—will be the basis for the talk, “Rapid Sepsis Diagnosis with Deformability Cytometry.” Dino DiCarlo, PhD, will discuss how assessing neutrophil biomechanics may be a useful tool for early sepsis diagnosis. He will describe how the technology used to measure neutrophil biomechanics can be miniaturized and potentially applied at the bedside as a point-of-care technology.

After this session, attendees will have a greater appreciation for the role of predictive analytics in laboratory medicine generally and in sepsis specifically. The potential role of using neutrophil biomechanics and neutrophil derived lipid metabolites as novel biomarkers is new, exciting and hopefully, the transition from research to the bedside will happen sooner than we think.