Universiteit Leiden

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Credit: Guido Benschop

Remarkable PhD research: diagnosing sepsis in premature babies

How can we diagnose the life-threatening condition sepsis in premature babies as quickly and accurately as possible? That is what PhD student Manchu Thangavelu from the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) wants to figure out.

‘Sepsis poses a serious risk to the baby's health. In just a few hours, the condition can deteriorate badly. It is a violent reaction of the body to a bacterium, fungus, virus or parasite. A rapid and accurate diagnosis is crucial. Given the severity, clinicians often opt to administer antibiotics under the guise of better safe than sorry.'

'However, this leads to unnecessary antibiotic use, contributing to future antibiotic resistance.’ Thangavelu is therefore looking for an alternative. Her research focuses on identifying biomarkers. These are measurable indicators that provide information about biological processes, such as a person's state of health. ‘These biomarkers may potentially aid in diagnosing neonatal sepsis in premature babies. The initial findings seem promising.’

Thangavelu works within the scientific programme Medical Delta Institute of Fetal & Neonatal Care, in a joint project between Leiden University and Erasmus MC. Within this, she focuses on the theme ‘survival of the littlest’, to improve the lives of premature babies. 

Want to know more about Thangavelu’s research? Read the full interview on Medical Delta.

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