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Drexel Research in Cytokines Could Treat Sepsis

Researchers from Drexel University and the University of Brighton in the U.K. have achieved groundbreaking results, which may significantly improve the treatment of sepsis. //

Sepsis is an uncontrolled immune response to infection or severe trauma that results in 1,500 deaths worldwide every day, a scale comparable to those caused by lung and breast cancers. Sepsis occurs when proteins called cytokines are released by the immune system in response to infection and create an intense state of systemic inflammation that damages healthy tissue and can lead to organ failure. The worldwide occurrence of sepsis is approaching 20 million cases annually and the absence of efficient drug-based therapies makes this systemic inflammatory response to infection one of the major burdens of healthcare systems, costing over $17 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

Sepsis can be treated by hemofiltration, but the efficiency of treatment is limited by the filter material. The most popular filter material currently in use is activated carbon (charcoal). Its ability to treat poisoning has been known for over three thousand years. It works by adsorbing small organic molecules. However, even advanced activated carbon, with a surface area over 2000 m2/g, falls short when larger biological molecules, such as proteins with characteristic dimensions, over 5-10 nm, need to be removed from the human body or biological fluids. Most of the pores in activated carbon are too small and only a small fraction of the surface area is available for adsorption. Technology for production of medical adsorbents has not changed much during the last century and only a limited control over pore size can be achieved.

The U.S./U.K. team has developed a novel method that allows the creation of carbon adsorbents with the desired size of pores. The new method uses selective etching of inorganic crystalline carbides. The formation of pores is governed by a self-assembling process
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