CORVALLIS, Ore. The National Science Foundation has just awarded $200,000 to engineers at Oregon State University who have developed a new technology that they believe could revolutionize the treatment and prevention of sepsis.
Sepsis is a "hidden killer" that in the United States actually kills more people every year than AIDS, prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.
More commonly called "blood poisoning," sepsis can quickly turn a modest infection into a whole-body inflammation, based on a dysfunctional immune response to endotoxins that are released from the cell walls of bacteria. When severe, this can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
When treatment is begun early enough, sepsis can sometimes be successfully treated with antibiotics. But they are not always effective and the mortality rate for the condition is still 28-50 percent. About one in every four people in a hospital emergency room is there because of sepsis, and millions of people die from it around the world every year, according to reports in the New England Journal of Medicine and other studies.
In pioneering research, OSU experts have used microchannel technology and special coatings to create a small device through which blood could be processed, removing the problematic endotoxins and preventing sepsis. Several recent professional publications have reported on their progress.
"More work remains to be done, and the support from the National Science Foundation will be instrumental in that," said Adam Higgins, principal investigator on the grant and an assistant professor in the OSU School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. "When complete, we believe this technology will treat sepsis effectively at low cost, or even prevent it when used as a prophylactic treatment."
This technology may finally offer a way to tackle sepsis other than antibiotics, the researchers said.
"This doesn't just kill bact
|Contact: Adam Higgins|
Oregon State University