Finding A New Way to Fight Late-Stage Sepsis

Researchers have developed a way to prop up a struggling immune system to enable its fight against sepsis, a deadly condition resulting from the body’s extreme reaction to infection.

The scientists used nanotechnology to transform donated healthy immune cells into a drug with enhanced power to kill bacteria.

In experiments treating mice with sepsis, the engineered immune cells eliminated bacteria in blood and major organs, dramatically improving survival rates.

This work focuses on a treatment for late-stage sepsis, when the immune system is compromised and unable to clear invading bacteria. The scientists are collaborating with clinicians specializing in sepsis treatment to accelerate the drug-development process.

“Sepsis remains the leading cause of death in hospitals. There hasn’t been an effective treatment for late-stage sepsis for a long time. We’re thinking this cell therapy can help patients who get to the late stage of sepsis,” said Yizhou Dong, senior author and associate professor of pharmaceutics and pharmacology at The Ohio State University. “For translation in the clinic, we believe this could be used in combination with current intensive-care treatment for sepsis patients.”

The study is published today (Jan. 6, 2020) in Nature Nanotechnology.

Sepsis itself is not an infection – it’s a life-threatening systemic response to infection that can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that 1.7 million adults in the United States develop sepsis each year, and one in three patients who die in a hospital has sepsis.

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