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As COVID-19 continues to ravage our healthcare systems, the race to find solutions is on. For Dr Bob Hancock, a Vancouver-based microbiologist, this means tackling sepsis — a potentially life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by the body’s response to an infection, and the second leading cause of death among COVID 19 patients. 

Hancock, the co-founder of B.C.-based Sepset Biosciences inc, recently received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to conduct a multi-centre clinical study to investigate which patients with COVID-19 are at higher risk of developing sepsis.

“The goal is to tell the physician within an hour whether or not a patient will develop sepsis — who’ll go down quick and who won’t,” said Hancock. “The right patients can be moved to the ICU immediately.”

Sepset Biosciences is developing a blood test for hospitals to identify septic patients and those at risk of organ failure. The diagnosis of sepsis is currently based on symptomologies, such as mental confusion, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. However, according to Hancock, there is often only a 50/50 chance of an accurate diagnosis since the symptoms are quite general.