© SensUs

On the 2nd of September students from the TU Eindhoven organize the international student competition SensUs for the seventh time. Fifteen student teams from all over the world will present their detection method for the life threatening inflammatory disease sepsis. Last year the finale took place online due to COVID-restrictions, this year there will be a physical event at the TU Eindhoven campus.

Sepsis is an acute inflammation that happens in the entire body as a response to infection of the blood. It is a life threatening disease that leads to millions of people ending up in the intensive care unit yearly. Thirty to forty percentof the patients dies. The most frequent symptoms are increased heartbeat, fast breathing, fever and extreme pain. Worldwide over fifty million people can get sepsis yearly.

Accelerating innovation

Early diagnosis is essential, because the odds of survival decrease every hour by ten percent when no immediate action is taken. For that reason the participants of the competition develop sensors for healthcare to quickly measure if a patient has sepsis. The organization hopes to accelerate the innovation of biosensors through this competition. The goal of the competition is to stimulate the development of fast and advanced testing methods.

The participants of the competition focus on the molecule IL-6, which is released during the inflammatory response. This is a signaling agent of the immune system that are present in the body in high concentrations in cases of sepsis. It would be very helpful if the concentration of IL-6 could be measured with a fast sensor, so sepsis could be diagnosed before dangerous symptoms occur.

Improving healthcare

One of the participants is student team T.E.S.T. from the TU Eindhoven itself. The team, recruited nearly a year ago, is made up of nine bachelor-students from the major Biomedical Engineering. “We want to improve healthcare”, says Lars Daenen, PR-manager of T.E.S.T. “Sepsis is very common, and it is highly necessary to test quickly. That makes this competition so important.”

Daenen expects T.E.S.T. to show impressive results. “Next to the development of the biosensor, it is also an important criterium for the competition to develop a business plan and the impact of the biosensor. For that reason we talked to several doctors and medical professionals about the need of a biosensor and its application. We are going into the competition with a lot of confidence.” 

Unknown disease

But why is the focus of the SensUs Competition of this year on sepsis and the measurement of IL-6 in blood? “That is because sepsis causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS, prostate- and breast cancer together, even though almost 90 percent of population has never even heard of this disease. That is one of the reason we want to help combat sepsis”, organizer Esmee Huijsmans explains.

The fifteen participating teams come from different continents and are judged by a jury of 28 professionals, who pay attention to creativity, quality, and market potential. The public can also cast their vote.

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