Researchers at Queen's University Belfast claim to have developed a new treatment for sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). There is currently no effective treatment, and it remains a life-threatening disease in the U.K.
Catalyzed from an initial discovery made more than 6 years ago at Queen's, the novel anti-inflammatory drug, SAN101, is being developed with help from Trinity College Dublin.
The results from the preclinical trial, backed by a major grant from the MRC in 2012, were recently published in Science Translational Medicine. Professor Chris Scott, who is spearheading the work, is due to present the data at the Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences of Great Britain Conference on Sept. 9.
The efficacy of SAN101 relies on its ability to bind to immune cells in the body and inhibit the excessive cycle of inflammation, a process which drives the progression of sepsis to the more serious ARDS. SAN101 is itself a nanoparticle and is therefore small enough to get into the lungs and target the cells responsible for causing the inflammation, namely macrophages.
"A frequent complication of sepsis is ARDS--where the lungs can't provide enough oxygen for the rest of the body. Up to 25% of patients with severe sepsis will develop ARDS and up to half of the patients will die," Scott said in a statement. "We have found that this nanoparticle [SAN101] essentially blocks inflammation and interrupts the chain of reactions that lead to severe sepsis and ARDS."
Professor Danny McAuley, who is the clinical lead, added: "At present, there is no effective treatment for either sepsis or ARDS. There is a huge clinical need for a drug to fight the inflammation caused by sepsis and ARDS that causes so much damage to the body. Through this research, we are well on our way to developing that drug."