Researchers from Polytechnic University and SUNY Downstate Discover New Drug for Treatment of Sepsis-

Polytechnic University and SUNY Downstate Medical Center
have teamed up to uncover a new candidate for the treatment of sepsis,
a bacterial infection of the blood with high morbidity and mortality
rates. The researchers' findings, which appear in the January 2006
issue of Critical Care Medicine,
show that the administration of sophorolipids significantly decreased
mortality in animals with intra-abdominal induced sepsis.

Sophorolipids
are a unique class of natural microbial glycolipids
(carbohydrate-attached lipids), which have been shown to modulate the
immune system and have application in several disorders. Glycolipids
are carbohydrate-attached lipids (fats) that provide energy and serve
as cellular markers.

Dr. Richard A. Gross, lead scientist on the project and Professor of Chemical Biology at Polytechnic University and Director of Poly's NSF Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing
stated: “Over the past few years our laboratory developed efficient
routes to synthesize sophorolipids by fermentation and to subsequently
modify their structures by chemo-enzymatic methods. By these approaches
we can rapidly change their structure and provide our colleagues at
SUNY Downstate large quantities of new sophorolipid-based drugs for
clinical evaluation. This will allow us to fine-tune the biological
properties of sophorolipids making them an ideal agent for the
development of a new drug to battle this debilitating disease.”

According to lead author Dr. Martin Bluth, Director of Surgical Research at SUNY Downstate,
“Sophorolipids appear to act by modulating the immune system by
potentially decreasing the body's inappropriate inflammatory response
to sepsis”. The team also found that sophorolipids also reduced
macrophage production of nitric acid in the body, another factor
contributing to the symptoms of this disease. The discovery has led to
the development of a new drug, now in its preclinical phase, which has
already shown a significant decrease of sepsis-related deaths in
experimental animal studies.

Although
significant improvements have been made in developing new antibiotic
therapies and advancing surgical techniques, effective preventative
measures and treatment options are of clinical importance.