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Biomedical researchers at Cardiff Met play vital role in intensive care sepsis study


​Professor Keith Morris

Scientists from Cardiff Metropolitan University’s School of Health Sciences have conducted ground-breaking research into helping people with sepsis syndrome - a potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection or injury that can affect blood’s ability to clot. Sepsis is a major cause of mortality in intensive care units.

The collaborative study, which was led by researchers at the biomedical research Unit at Morriston Hospital, Swansea and Swansea University, looked at why some people with sepsis syndrome develop septic shock and how the properties of patients’ blood changed during this process. Septic shock is a life-threatening condition whereby blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection.

Cardiff Met’s Professor Keith Morris and the team developed a new method of analysing blood – fractal analysis – using samples taken from over a 100 people admitted to intensive care with sepsis syndrome.

The team used a highly novel method of determining the fractal structure of the blood clot at the moment of clot formation. Fractals can be compared to branching networks and are common in nature, but very difficult to measure in blood. Over the course of the three year study, Prof Morris and colleagues designed and conducted the trials, ensuring they would provide robust clinical data and undertook a range of analyses on samples taken from the patients.

Speaking about the trials, Prof Keith Morris said: “Following this comprehensive study, we can now quickly identify the change in clot structure that helps identify sepsis patients who are unfortunately most likely to develop the highly dangerous septic shock. These studies have also increased our understanding of the complex changes in clotting that is a huge feature of sepsis and septic shock.

This collaborative study with Professor Adrian Evans, Dr Gareth Davies and Dr Matt Lawrence from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board and Swansea University is being developed into a system that provides intensive care clinicians with a rapid method of analysis for patients with sepsis syndrome which wasn’t possible a until recently.”

Director of research at Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Professor Phil James added: “Our biomedical scientists and biostatisticians at Cardiff Met have undertaken pivotal work in recognising that blood clots have a fractal nature that can provide key information and be used to predict progression of disease state.

“This research required collaborations and developments in advanced medical, engineering and biomedical methods and is yet another example of the high–calibre research work that is carried out day-to-day in Cardiff School of Health Sciences.”