Sepsis, an out-of-control immune response to an infection, is deadly in about one third of patients. It is the most expensive condition treated in U.S. hospitals, costing $20 billion annually, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Experts say that the incidence is rising with our aging population, yet there are no specific treatments to stop the syndrome.
Researchers at the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are working to change that. As part of the National Institutes of Health’s Blood and Vascular Systems Response to Sepsis Program, a team of scientists led by Minsoo Kim, Ph.D., associate professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology, received $4 million to study the disease and identify new treatment targets.
The team, which includes immunologists, engineers and critical care clinicians, will focus on a hallmark of the disease – leaks in blood vessels that supply the body’s major organs. These leaks, caused by an overabundance of immune cells that break through vessel walls, deprive the lungs, kidneys, liver, intestines and heart of the resources they need to survive. Kim says that understanding how these leaks are formed may allow scientists to control, delay or even prevent organ failure and death in patients with sepsis.
Read more about the research here.