Sepsis and CAP are among the top ten leading causes of death for most age groups worldwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Every minute of every day, one person is dying from sepsis in the U.S. and this number is projected to rise at a rate of 1.5 percent per year. A 25 percent reduction in mortality due to sepsis has the potential to save the lives of 50,000 people in the U.S. and over 1 million individuals worldwide each year, estimates the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
"A major challenge facing health care providers in the successful treatment of medical conditions such as sepsis and CAP is the inability to rapidly and consistently diagnosis these conditions," said Dr. Paul Keim, Director of Pathogen Genomics at TGen and Director of the Microbial Genetics and Genomics ABOR Center at Northern Arizona University. "By coupling the genomic signature analysis from our initial research to high-throughput assays we can validate signatures very rapidly and accelerate the advancement of this technology for improving public health."
Supported by Applied Biosystems (NYSE:ABI), this project aims to discover pathogen-specific DNA signatures. These signatures will then be used to design and validate Applied Biosystems TaqMan® Real-time PCR assays for the accurate identification of these life-threatening infections. Verification and validation in a clinical laboratory setting will take place through the Laboratory Services of Arizona (LSA) and the Banner Health System. In addition, an informatics system will be developed for handling assay data during the validation and eventually for handling associated clinical data in a HIPAA compliant environment.
"Each day thousands of patients in our hospitals and around the world are facing life-threatening situations caused by these infections," said Dr. Ellen Feigal, Senior Vice President of Research and Deputy Scientific Director of TGen. "This public/private collaboration will accelerate more accurate diagnoses and effective treatments for these patients."
TGen is a not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to make and translate genomic discoveries into advances in human health. Translational genomics research is a relatively new field employing innovative advances arising from the Human Genome Project to apply to the development of diagnostics, prognostics and therapies for cancer, neurological disorders, diabetes and other complex diseases.
The Pathogen Genomics Division is a joint program between TGen and Arizona's major universities, which results in a unified approach to protecting America against dangerous pathogens, in particular Bacillus anthracis (anthrax). Directed by Dr. Paul Keim, a leading expert on anthrax, the division encompasses work in the areas of comparative sequencing and computational biology. Additional information on TGen and the Pathogen Genomics Division may be found at www.tgen.org.
About Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University (NAU) has a student population of about 18,000 at its main campus in Flagstaff and at 30 sites across the state. NAU has earned a solid reputation as a university with all the features of a large institution but with a personal touch. NAU carefully balances teaching, scholarship and service with a faculty and staff dedicated to each student's success. While our emphasis is undergraduate education, we offer a wide range of graduate programs and research that extend to such national concerns as forest health and bioterrorism.
About Banner Health
Based in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. Banner has 20 facilities that offer an array of services including hospital care, home care, hospice care, nursing registries, surgery centers, laboratories, and rehabilitation services. These facilities are located in seven states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, and Wyoming. Banner employs nearly 26,000 employees, making it one of the country's largest employers, as well. The company's Arizona region, alone, employs nearly 19,000 people.