Breakthrough in treatment for Sepsis

Published: 13 May 2010

Professor Liew's finding could see new therapies being developed to more effectively treat the potentially lethal condition.

University scientists have made an important breakthrough in the potential treatment of blood poisoning or Sepsis.

The finding, reported online today in the scientific journal Nature Medicine, could see new therapies being developed in order to more effectively treat the potentially lethal condition.

Sepsis is an acute inflammatory condition which has a worldwide incidence of 18 million cases per year with mortality rates of up to 30%.

Sepsis results from uncontrolled bacterial infection with multi-organ failure and treatment options are limited.

Professor Eddy Liew and researchers in the University’s Division of Immunology, Infection and Inflammation, have found that the newly discovered cytokine, Interleukin-33 (IL-33), may be a novel therapeutic agent against sepsis.

According to the report, treatment with IL-33 reduced mortality in mice with experimental sepsis.

The IL-33-treated mice developed increased migration of neutrophils, a key population of white blood cells which can kill bacteria, into the site of infection, leading to more efficient bacterial clearance than untreated mice. The IL-33-treated animals also had less systemic inflammation and hence less severe multi-organ damage.  Importantly, patients who recovered from sepsis had more IL-33 in their blood than those who did not recovered.

Professor Liew explained that: IL-33 could play an important role in clinical sepsis. Synthetic IL-33 which can be manufactured in substantial quantities may be a potential therapeutic agent against this major class of disease affecting particularly people in the developing countries.

For more information please contact Eleanor Cowie, Media Relations Officer, University of Glasgow, on 0141 330 3683 or

First published: 13 May 2010

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