Porträtt Maria Hedberg, Dianox

The start-up company Dianox, based in Umeå, is releasing a web-based education in clinical anaerobic bacteriology to teach biomedical scientists and other health and lab staff more about anaerobic bacteria. These bacteria can cause severe infections, that in the worst case can lead to fatal sepsis.

“The knowledge is inadequate in many hospitals and the universities address the problem of anaerobic bacteria to a limited extent. With more knowledge, hundreds of cases of serious blood poisoning can be avoided each year”, says Maria Hedberg, CEO at Dianox.

Every year about 40 000 cases of sepsis occur in Sweden, of which three to ten percent (1 200–4 000 cases) are caused by anaerobic bacteria. These bacteria die in the presence of oxygen. Most often, the disease-causing anaerobic bacteria occur in the patient’s own normal microflora, but in, for example, post-surgery infections, trauma, impaired blood circulation or underlying disease, they can create serious infections that can, in the worst case, lead to death.

“Simple mistakes in the sampling of specimens from a patient, or later handling of material collected from an anaerobic infection, may kill the bacteria before they can be detected and identified. Thereby the diagnosis and antimicrobial treatment might be wrong. A serious infection can have a rapid progression that leads to sepsis, so it is very important that the patients receive the right treatment as quickly as possible”, says Maria Hedberg, associate professor and biomedical scientist.

She and her company Dianox are located at Umeå Biotech Incubator, where she has developed an online-education for laboratory staff. The goal is to develop courses for different groups involved in health care, to maintain and improve knowledge on anaerobic bacteria at Swedish hospitals.

“We are facing major retirements and it is foremost the older generation who have knowledge of anaerobic bacteria and how to manage them to get a fair result in the lab. As the more experienced now disappear from the health care, everything depends on the knowledge the younger carry with them. That’s where Dianox’ education comes in as a support”, says Maria Hedberg.

This spring she held a pilot training in southern Sweden, which was much appreciated. Since then, the online education has been evaluated. Now it is released and made available to healthcare professionals throughout the country.

“The course covers for example anaerobic infections, sampling of specimens and antimicrobial resistance. Most important when working with anaerobic bacteria is to keep them protected from oxygen, otherwise they will die”, says Maria Hedberg.

Statistics from the National Board of Health and Welfare in 2017 show 181 reported cases of sepsis due to anaerobic bacteria. The ages of the patients varied between 0 and 89 years and the care time between 2 and 63 days. Twelve percent of the patients died. There is no obligation to report anaerobic infections, so the hidden statistics is probably considerable.

“In addition to personal suffering, only these cases cost over SEK 28 million in healthcare costs during the time patients were cared for in hospitals. Large cost savings can be made by giving healthcare personnel better knowledge of how to manage anaerobic bacteria”, says Maria Hedberg.

For more information, please contact:

Maria Hedberg, CEO Dianox
+46 70-320 99 51