Promising New Drug Could Halt Sepsis Progression
Researchers are reporting that findings from a pre-clinical trial show that a new drug could help to keep sepsis from damaging major organs in the body.
Scientists at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) report that the revolutionary drug showed potential for halting the progression of sepsis in a pre-clinical trial that was carried out. They made this known in a presentation at RCSI Research Day 2019.
The compound tested by the researchers is known as cilengitide. It goes under the brand name InnovoSep.
Lead investigator Steve Kerrigan, an associate professor of pharmacology at RCSI, is credited with the invention of the drug.
Sepsis is dangerous
The new therapy is interesting particularly due to the fact that sepsis can be potentially fatal. It is a common clinical complaint that seems to be leading to increasing cases of death.
The number of cases increases by 8 percent every year, according to the World Sepsis Alliance.
Sepsis is usually the result of an immune response to an existing infection. It is a medical emergency that needs to be promptly treated. Failing to do so can result in death.
This problem, also known as blood poisoning, is most commonly associated with Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli infections. But practically all types of infections can cause it, including minor ones, like those from cuts or bruises.
“Sepsis occurs when an infection gets into the bloodstream,” Kerrigan said, “and our own body’s defense system spins out of control trying to fight the infection, which results in multiple organ failure if untreated.”
It is estimated that more than a million people in the United States have severe sepsis each year. Up to 30 percent of these persons are believed to die from sepsis.
Around the world, up to about 20 percent of the more than 30 million affected each year die as a result of sepsis.
Kerrigan noted that there is only “a short window of opportunity” for treatment of this clinical problem. But the inability to promptly identify the particular bacteria causing the infection and an increasing antibiotic resistance often make its treatment very difficult.
“Therefore, there is a need for a non-antibiotic therapy that can be used at all stages of infection against all bacterial causes of sepsis.” the principal investigator said.
During the pre-clinical trial, researchers were able to successfully use InnovoSep to block S. aureus and E. coli from binding to endothelial cells in human – both in vitro and in vivo. This helps to prevent damage to these cells and keep the infection from progressing to septic shock and severe organ failure.
Endothelial cells constitute a major barrier between the extravascular space and the blood. The drug helped to preserve the barrier integrity as well as prevent inflammation, thrombus formation, and coagulation activation. These actions make it potentially useful for guarding against organ failure and sepsis-induced death.
The compound in InnovoSep is an antagonist of alpha-v beta-3, a key integrin in endothelial cells that mediates their adhesion to the extracellular matrix.
This drug essentially enhances the integrity of blood vessels to ensure bacteria do not find their way into the bloodstream from infection sites.
InnovoSep is not an antibiotic, so it is unlikely to have a resistance problem that is currently being witnessed with such drugs.
Kerrigan said the therapy can not only help to stop the progression of sepsis at the early stages but can also be useful for the treatment of advanced sepsis.
- Promising New Drug Shows Potential to Stop Progression of Sepsis
- What is sepsis?