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News

Blood poisoning vaccine ready for human trials

Society For General Microbiology : 08 April, 2003  (Company News)
A combined British and US research team has developed the world's first vaccine against endotoxin, which is a key cause of blood poisoning and death after major surgery for cancer or heart disease. The announcement was made at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Meeting in Edinburgh.
A combined British and US research team has developed the world's first vaccine against endotoxin, which is a key cause of blood poisoning and death after major surgery for cancer or heart disease. The announcement was made at the Society for General Microbiology's Spring Meeting in Edinburgh.

'Most people make a rapid and successful recovery from major surgery,' says Monty Mythen, Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care at University College, London. 'But we have discovered that people who take a long time to recover, or even die, often have low levels of natural defence against a dangerous by-product of bacteria called endotoxin.'

Endotoxin comes from bacteria usually living in the bowels, but it can leak into the bloodstream during critical illness or major surgery, causing fatal blood poisoning. The levels of our defences called antibodies vary by as much as three hundred times between different patients, and it is this difference which is crucial to the chances of recovery after surgery if an infection sets in.

'We needed to find a way of boosting antibodies to endotoxin in patients undergoing complex open-heart or cancer surgery,' says Professor Mythen. 'We have proved that the vaccine can protect animals, and are now ready to test it in people.'

As well as screening patients before surgery and raising their resistance where necessary by using the vaccine, doctors say that military and other high risk personnel could be routinely protected in the future.
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