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Hope rises in new drug to combat sepsis

Researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have found a promising new drug to combat sepsis, potentially saving millions of lives each year. Research on the new medication, was published yesterday in ‘Nature Communications’. Sepsis is a life-threatening complication of an infection and it occurs when chemicals released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body, causing a cascade of changes which can damage multiple organ systems, leading them to fail, sometimes even resulting in death.

ANU Professor Christopher Parish and his team have been working on the drug for more than 10 years, with the drug being developed from compounds originally designed to fight cancer.

There are some 11 million sepsis-related deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) – accounting for almost 20 per cent of all global deaths. Parish admitted,There is a huge medical need for a treatment for sepsis. It is surprising how many people die from sepsis and the medical profession hasn’t yet found a treatment.

“We hope that we can now treat the untreatable. This drug is very safe, and we are very excited about its potential use against sepsis.” Sepsis is a dangerous, often fatal response, to many infections including COVID-19. Parish said, “Sepsis occurs when pathogens— usually bacteria but sometimes viruses—get out of control and the immune system tries to control them but overdoes the job and causes massive collateral damage.

The ‘Medical X press’ reported that the drug, initially developed on-site at ANU was further developed in collaboration with Director and Principal Research Leader Professor Mark von Itzstein A.O and researcher Dr. Chih-Wei Chang from Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics in Australia. According to the report, it has now passed phase one clinical trials in healthy volunteers and is undergoing another phase one trial in sepsis patients. The researchers said their new drug could help some people with COVID- 19—particularly those patients with sepsis-like symptoms in their lungs.


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