Marshall University researchers find possible sepsis treatment

Dr. Eric Blough (L) and Dr. Nandini Manne (R) may have found a possible treatment for sepsis. (WCHS/WVAH)

Sepsis is the number one cause of death in intensive care units and the number one killer of infants worldwide. Two researchers at Marshall University have developed a possible treatment, using an unlikely substance.

In late 2011 Dr. Eric Blough and Dr. Nandini Manne began experimenting cerium oxide nanoparticles, commonly used as an industrial polishing agent, and they discovered it could possibly treat sepsis through testing lab rats.

"It was able to prevent the death in these animals without which the animals would die. We were excited about that and we started looking into the mechanism how cerium nanoparticles work," said Dr. Manne. "What we found was that single I.V. intravenous injection significantly improved survival rate," said Dr. Blough.

Dr. Blough says besides treating sepsis, the procedure could also be used to treat alcoholic liver disease and inflammation from trauma, severe burns or spinal injury. "We don't know yet if the findings that we see in animals translates to humans. The material costs of the chemicals are minuscule," said Dr. Blough.

The pair have a U.S. patent for the procedure. While the use in humans is years down the road, the next step is to find a licensing partner to help develop the application further. "If this really goes to a human application, then naturally it's a wonder drug and it could potentially save thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives," said Dr. Manne.

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