A new drug for sepsis has been developed by scientists that could save the lives of millions of people a year.
The condition – which kills more people than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined – remains largely unknown.
Also referred to as blood poisoning or septicaemia, it can strike anyone – young or old – and there is no direct cure.
Now, the first reliable treatment is on the horizon thanks to an antibody that stops the disease by boosting blood vessels.
Sepsis can be triggered by any bacterial or viral infection and causes the immune system to go into overdrive – affecting more than 19 million people worldwide.
Every hour it goes untreated raises the risk of death by eight per cent and one- in-five of those who do survive are left with long-term damage to organs such as the kidneys, lungs and the liver.
The drug ABTAA destroys a protein called Ang2 which circulates through the bloodstream during a severe infection killing vascular cells and making vessels weak leading to severe inflammation and organ damage.
Intriguingly, Ang2 multiplies during a heart attack – meaning ABTAA could work for that, too and cure life-threatening infections such as the Ebola or MERS viruses since both devastate vascular systems.
ABTAA also works against sepsis by triggering another protein called Tie2 which stimulates the growth of blood vessels
In lab tests on mice with severe sepsis survival rates increased by a remarkable 70 percent after they were injected with the antibody.
Dr Seung Jun Lee, of the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea, said ABTAA eliminates the root cause of sepsis so the body has a strong battlefield to fight the infection.
He said: ‘In the past treating sepsis meant fighting off the underlying infection but the immune system still attacked itself and people still died.’
Dr Lee said ABTAA strengthens blood vessels ‘so the body has a stable environment to fight the infection which also prevents further damage.’
He’s confident it will likely become a therapeutic treatment for sepsis and mean death no longer appears to be inevitable.
His study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
April 23, 2016