Using Old Drugs in New Ways to Fight Sepsis – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Each year, at least 1.7 million Americans develop sepsis. According to the CDC, 270,000 will die as a result. Sepsis is caused by bacterial infections but, it can also be caused by viral infections like COVID-19. Now, there’s new hope that two already approved drugs can help save lives.
Fever, chills, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and confusion are all symptoms of sepsis.
“Sepsis is one of the most dangerous syndromes known in medicine,” said Dr. Victor Nizet, a UC San Diego School of Medicine professor.
In fact, one in three patients who die in a hospital also has sepsis.
“It is an uncontrolled inflammatory response to a severe bacterial infection that is spreading through your body,” said Nizet.
Usually treated with antibiotics, there’s no single approved drug specifically targeting sepsis but, researchers at UC San Diego have found two different drugs, already FDA approved, that may help the patient’s own body fight staph sepsis-not by using antibiotics, but by maintaining a patient’s platelet count.
“Platelets in the blood were able to kill staph better than the white blood cells,” Nizet said.
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The two repurposed drugs used to maintain platelets are Brilinta, a blood thinner commonly prescribed to prevent heart attack recurrence, and Tamiflu used to treat the flu.
Sixty percent of mice treated with both drugs survived 10 days following infection, compared to 20% of untreated mice.
Now, researchers hope these same results will transfer to people.
“We are looking for new ideas in which we try to assist in the clearance of infection by boosting the immune system,” said Nizet.
Sepsis is one of the costliest of all diseases, recently totaling more than $24 billion in hospital expenses or 13% of total U.S. hospital costs.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer