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Restoring appropriate movement to immune cells may save seriously burned patients
Date:6/19/2013

Advances in emergency medicine and trauma surgery have had a significant impact on survival of patients in the days immediately after major injuries, including burns. Patients who survive the immediate aftermath of their injuries now are at greatest risk from infections particularly the overwhelming, life-threatening immune reaction known as sepsis or from inflammation-induced multiorgan failure. Now, a device developed by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators that measures the movement of key immune cells may help determine which patients are at greatest risk for complications, and a novel treatment that directly addresses the cause of such complications could prevent many associated deaths.

"One in every three patients with burn injuries that dies in an intensive care unit does so because of septic complications," says Daniel Irimia, MD, PhD, of the MGH Department of Surgery, corresponding author of a report in the June FASEB Journal. "In the days immediately after injury, white blood cells called neutrophils can lose their ability to move to the site of an injury. In an animal model of burn injury, we found that death due to septic complications can be prevented by a treatment that restores the proper movement of neutrophils."

The most abundant type of white blood cell, neutrophils are part of the innate immune system and the body's first line of defense against infections. Normally, neutrophils are drawn towards the site of a infection by chemical signals from bacteria or injured cells. However, it has recently been discovered that in patients with serious burn injuries neutrophils' ability to follow these signals becomes impaired soon after the injury. Not only does that impairment reduce the availability of the cells to fight infection at the site of injury, but misguided neutrophils also can attack healthy tissue, contributing to organ failure. The current study was designed to analyze changes in the spe
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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