Over 600 people are killed by infection in their bloodstream each day, but professor Mohamed Seleem is trying to combat this number with a quicker method for diagnosing infection, according to a Purdue News release.

Blood infections are so deadly due to their quick-moving nature and difficulty to diagnose. Currently, medical providers must examine the infection-causing bacteria in a process that takes several days to produce results. While they wait for the verdict, doctors usually administer a cocktail of medicines in hopes that one will succeed in curing their patient. This, however, rarely works and in some cases harms the patients, as they’re given medication they don’t need.

Seleem, a professor of microbiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, has created a tool capable of identifying the type of infection patients have and also what medication they should be given in 20 minutes, according to a Purdue news press release.

The tool is able to pick out the infection in a sample of the patient’s blood. Then, once identified, Seleem can go inside the bacteria and study it.  

“Like each person has an individual fingerprint, each bacterium has a single fingerprint that’s specific to that infection,” said Seleem in the release. “We created a library with the fingerprint of each infection, that way, we can quickly identify what kind of infection the patient has.”

Seleem’s primary study was conducted with only one bacterium. Now, alongside Ji-Xin Cheng, a professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, he is focusing on fine-tuning the tool’s technique and confirming that it can identify all six of the most common infections in the bloodstream.

In the release, Seleem emphasized how imperative it is to create a quick and efficient tool in diagnosing infection.

“We could save a lot of lives,” he said.

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