Children's immune system could hold the key to preventing sepsis

June 19, 2018 by Amy Huxtable, University of Sheffield
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Children's immune systems could hold the key to preventing life-threatening infections and sepsis, a new study has revealed.

The ground-breaking research conducted by an international team of scientists at the University of Sheffield and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, has identified the key response that use to control infections - making them resilient to many severe infections and sepsis.

Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is the reaction to an infection which causes the body to attack its own organs and tissue.

It affects more than 20 million people worldwide and is responsible for more deaths in the UK than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. It is often referred to as the hidden killer as symptoms initially present themselves as flu, gastroenteritis or a .

The new study, which is the first of its kind, has helped scientists identify key differences in cell-pathway activity in the blood of septic adults and children. Establishing the pathways that help prevent sepsis is a powerful new way to discover drugs for intervention against sepsis and provides direct insight into potential cures for the disease.

Winston Hide, Professor of Computational Biology at the University of Sheffield's Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN), is an author of the pioneering study published in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.

"Children are naturally more resistant to lots of infectious diseases," said Professor Hide.

"During outbreaks like Spanish flu and Ebola we know that children survived much better than adults. By analysing the blood profiles of infected children and comparing them to adults with we were able to identify children whose natural resilience helped them to ward off .

"By using the lessons we have learnt from the immune systems of children, scientists can now unlock how to control the disease and prevent it from occurring as opposed to trying to fight the disease once it has manifested itself."

The findings of the study are now being used to design drugs for research into prevention of other pathological diseases including Alzheimer's.

Explore further: Research aims to fine-tune sepsis diagnosis

Related Stories

Research aims to fine-tune sepsis diagnosis

February 20, 2018
Work designed to improve diagnosis of one of the leading causes of death in children is under way in Brisbane, led by a University of Queensland researcher.

Putting the brakes on sepsis

May 10, 2018
Sepsis—an extreme response to infection—can cause damage to multiple organ systems when it triggers an uncontrolled inflammatory response.

Vitamin C trialled as life-saving treatment intensive care patients with sepsis

June 12, 2018
University of Otago, Christchurch researchers are teaming up with intensive care specialists to study whether intravenous infusions of vitamin C could be a life-saving treatment for patients with sepsis.

Scientists illuminate role of staph toxins in bacterial sepsis

February 2, 2017
Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria are a significant health concern for hospitalized infants, children and anyone with implanted medical devices. The bacteria—typically skin dwellers—can infect the bloodstream and cause ...

Scientists find potential mechanism for deadly, sepsis-induced secondary infection

September 14, 2017
In mice, an infection-induced condition known as sepsis may increase the risk of life-threatening secondary infection by preventing recruitment of infection-fighting cells to the skin, according to new research published ...

Scientists discover new method to restore function of white blood cells in septic patients

December 1, 2016
New research findings published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, suggest that treating the white blood cells of sepsis patients with antibodies that block programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death ligand ...

Recommended for you

Taking the virus out of a mosquito's bite

December 12, 2018
They approach with the telltale sign—a high-pitched whine. It's a warning that you are a mosquito's next meal. But that mosquito might carry a virus, and now the virus is in you. Now, with the help of state-of-the-art technology, ...

Study identifies a key cellular mechanism that triggers pneumonia in humans

December 11, 2018
The relationship between influenza and pneumonia has long been observed by health workers. Its genetic and cellular mechanisms have now been investigated in depth by scientists in a study involving volunteers and conducted ...

Human antibody discovery could save lives from fungal killer

December 11, 2018
A new way to diagnose, treat and protect against stealth fungal infections that claim more than 1.5 million lives per year worldwide has been moved a step closer, according to research published in Nature Communications.

Effect of oral alfacalcidol on clinical outcomes in patients without secondary hyperparathyroidism

December 11, 2018
Treatment with active vitamin D did not decrease cardiovascular events in kidney patients undergoing hemodialysis, according to a research group in Japan. They have reported their research results in the December 11 issue ...

Dialysis patients at risk of progressive brain injury

December 10, 2018
Kidney dialysis can cause short-term 'cerebral stunning' and may be associated with progressive brain injury in those who receive the treatment for many years. For many patients with kidney failure awaiting a kidney transplant ...

Silicosis is on the rise, but is there a therapeutic target?

December 6, 2018
Researchers from the CNRS, the University of Orléans, and the company Artimmune, in collaboration with Turkish clinicians from Atatürk University, have identified a key mechanism of lung inflammation induced by silica exposure, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.