Zeroing in on an enzyme--SphK1--triggered by septic shock, researchers in Glasgow say that new drugs that can safely block it will significantly reduce the number of deaths caused by that condition.
The group had earlier concluded that immune cells mass produce the enzyme during sepsis. The investigative team either silenced a key gene or used an experimental drug dubbed 5c to inhibit the enzyme. Testing their theory in mice, the team found that they were not only able to reduce the risk of death, they also reduced the number of organ failures and found that the mice were able to clear out bacterial infections better.
"The incidence of sepsis is on the increase and clinical treatments are still inadequate so a medical breakthrough of this kind is timely and will hopefully lead to a way to treat this killer condition," says study leader Professor Alirio Melendez from the University of Glasgow. The study was published in the June 4 issue of Science.