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Infection and acute care

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Theme leads

Professor Alan McNally

Infection and Acute Care Theme Lead

Professor Liz Sapey

Infection and Acute Care Theme Lead

Improving outcomes for patients by testing better ways to identify infections, developing new medicines which harness the body’s own immune system to fight infections, and designing better care pathways so people get the care they need, faster.

Unplanned and emergency health problems place huge strains on the NHS. This leads to ambulances queuing outside hospitals, and long delays for patients waiting to be seen in Emergency Departments. Nearly half of all patients admitted to hospital either have an infection on arrival or develop one during their stay. Infections, and especially sepsis, the most severe form of infection, are associated with poor outcomes including death, organ damage, lengthy hospital admissions and poor health after the infection.

Despite this, our approach for treating infections has not changed over many years and we still only diagnose the exact cause of an infection in a small percentage of people. We also know that recovery from an infection depends on the body’s own immune system, but current treatments rarely consider how to improve the way the immune system works. Our theme will change this.

Working with scientists, healthcare staff, patients, and the public, we will:

  • develop new ways to identify the cause of an infection faster and more accurately using the genes of the microbes, based on techniques we pioneered during the COVID pandemic
  • improve how the immune system targets an infection, equipping the body’s own defence mechanisms to kill microbes without damaging healthy tissue
  • build new tools to identify the start of a serious infection with the help of artificial intelligence
  • test how to embed these new approaches into routine healthcare, so patients feel the benefit of our work faster.

Research projects

Personalising therapies for infection

Infections are common, with 40% of presentations to hospital (approximately 44M every year)…