Sepsis is responsible for about a quarter million deaths in just the U.S. each year.
Sepsis, the body’s reaction to infections, that is, inflammation, is often the root cause of death from many diseases from the common flu to the dreaded staph infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus and often occurring in a hospital setting.
Sepsis, which causes low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, weakness, and can lead to organ failure.
Sepsis And The Immune System
In reality sepsis is due to the body’s own powerful immune system because it is caused by the chemicals released into the bloodstream by the immune system.
Statins are known to reduce the inflammation caused by some diseases but have proven ineffectual against the most serious septic infections.
(See my Newsblaze article Why Does Swine Flu Kill Healthy People? for information related to the cytokine storm which can overwhelm the body when a healthy person’s immune system reacts to the flu.)
Now Molecular biologist Ivan Marazzi of the Ichan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and colleagues have found that a chemotherapy drug, Camptothecin, can reduce mortality in septic mice by 90%.
This is, of course, an early animal test but since sepsis can and often does kill within hours even in a top hospital, and there are few other treatments (and no really effective one) I would expect some doctors to use this FDA approved drug off label (perfectly legal) in a last ditch effort to prevent death.
Camptothecin’s cancer killing action is due to its blocking of the enzyme topoisomerase I, which, in part, seems to help orchestrate the immune system’s response.
Those patients who already have an influenza infection are particularly at risk to bacterial infection triggered sepsis.
According to Science Magazine, immunopathologist Peter Ward of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, molecular biologist Murat Kaynar of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania and others find these tests extremely interesting although they caution against putting too much faith in these early results.
In addition to the fact that there is really no other good method of treating advanced sepsis, the powerful chemotherapy drug would only need to be given in relatively small amounts – far less than in treating cancer.