Researchers Discover New Drug for the Treatment of Sepsis

BROOKLYN. N.Y. -- State University of New York  (SUNY)s Downstate Medical Center and Polytechnic University 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.

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 bodys 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.

Dr. Richard Gross, lead scientist on the project from the PolytechnicUniversity and director of the NSFCenter for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing at Poly, states, 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.

This joint effort is a prime example of incorporating bioengineering into clinical medicine and represents the cornerstone of the newly formed joint SUNY Downstate Polytechnic University Biomedical Engineering PhD program.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the United States, educating more than 412,000 students in 6,688 degree and certificate programs on 64 campuses.

Founded in 1854, PolytechnicUniversity recently celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary year. The University is one of the nations oldest private science and engineering schools and the New York metropolitan areas preeminent resource in science and technology.

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