Newly Characterized Cells Could Treat Sepsis

Instead of antibiotics, doctors could use the patient’s own immune cells to treat deadly sepsis in the future.

AsianScientist (Aug. 25, 2014) – Using the patient’s own immune cells could be a new way to combat sepsis, the cause of 7.3 million deaths worldwide each year. This research has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Antibiotics form the basis of most current treatments, but antibiotics can only stop sepsis escalating if it is caught early enough.

Lead author, Dr. Anne Fletcher, adjunct at Monash and the University of Birmingham in the UK, said antibiotics only controlled the infection that caused sepsis to develop, but did not treat the septic immune response in the body.

“New therapies trialed to treat the immune response have only targeted one particular inflammation pathway at a time,” said Dr. Fletcher from the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology.

“We know there are many inflammation pathways operating simultaneously and we need to consider this when treating sepsis. Targeting one inflammatory pathway at a time does not seem to work for sepsis.”

Instead, the researchers have identified using fibroblastic reticular cells (FRCs) from lymph nodes to provide a more holistic therapy to support the immune system across numerous pathways and combat the processes of sepsis.

Dr. Fletcher said lymph nodes played a vital role in the immune system as they activated the white blood cells that fight infection.

“Within lymph nodes, FRCs control white blood cells. During sepsis, however, white blood cells are in overdrive and cause the inflammation that drives the disease,” Dr. Fletcher said.

“By removing FRCs from lymph nodes, expanding them ex-vivo, and inserting them back into the body in high volumes after the onset of sepsis, our research has shown this can increase survival rate and decrease a range of inflammatory chemicals produced by white blood cells.”

Dr. Fletcher said a few therapies for sepsis had gone to clinical stage in the last decade but with little success.

“In comparison at this early stage of development these results do seem extremely promising. There is a long way to go before we start seeing this in everyday use but these results hopefully represent a significant step.”

The authors of the research have called for further exploration into the role that FRCs could play in sepsis.

The article can be found at: Fletcher et al. (2014) Lymph Node Fibroblastic Reticular Cell Transplants Show Robust Therapeutic Efficacy in High-Mortality Murine Sepsis.

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Source: Monash University.
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