Aethlon Medical (AEMD) Note: Extracorporeal Methods to Reduce Inflammation in Sepsis
SAN DIEGO, Jan. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Aethlon Medical, Inc. (AEMD), today released the following note authored by its Chairman and CEO, Jim Joyce.
Yesterday, our President Rod Kenley presented an informative review of extracorporeal medical device strategies to treat sepsis at the 15th International Conference on Dialysis. He also had the opportunity to discuss some of the advances we have made in the field. If you are not familiar with sepsis, it is a life-threatening blood infection that can trigger multiple organ failure and is a leading cause of death in intensive care units (ICU). 18 million cases of sepsis are diagnosed around the globe each year and candidate drug therapies have yet to demonstrate an ability to significantly improve survival rates.
When we initiated our sepsis research, the prevailing viewpoint seemed to be that sepsis was triggered by a hyperactive response of the immune system in an attempt to respond to overwhelming infection. This response is often called a "cytokine storm." As a result of this predominant viewpoint, many experimental therapies solely focused on modulating the early inflammatory response phase of sepsis and did so without much success. As it turns out, sepsis is far more complex as the exuberant inflammatory immune response occurring at the outset of sepsis is soon followed by a period of significant immune suppression. Thus, therapies solely focused on the knocking down the initial immune response may actually accelerate the development of immunosuppression, which is associated with a majority of deaths in sepsis. In other words, while sepsis is triggered by a hyper activation of the immune response, most sepsis patients actually die from immune paralysis.
As Rod points out in his presentation, evidence suggests that a successful extracorporeal strategy will have the ability to selectively eliminate multiple sepsis promoting factors from circulation without disrupting the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines or other elements that might further exasperate immune suppression. This is the focus of a strategy we are proudly advancing with industry colleagues under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
There is also an additional factor to consider. An increasing number of scientific journals are reporting evidence that sepsis related immune suppression reactivates latent viruses such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and other herpes viruses in critically ill patients, which in turn can increase the severity of sepsis, lengthen the stay in the ICU and increase patient mortality rates. In one recent publication, active CMV infection was associated with an 81% higher mortality rate as compared to critically ill patients without active CMV infection. Cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is a herpes virus found in more than half of the U.S. population over age 40. Like other herpes viruses, CMV can remain dormant inside cells for years, causing little or no apparent illness in healthy people. But in those with weakened immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients, people receiving chemotherapy, or people with AIDS, reawakening of the virus can cause serious complications or even death.
In previously conducted studies, our researchers demonstrated that our Hemopurifier® is able to capture CMV. That's right, the same Hemopurifier® we are actively advancing in the treatment of Hepatitis C virus (HCV). As such, we cannot ignore the possibility that our Hemopurifier® could have utility during the immunosuppressive phase of sepsis. In Rod's presentation, he also reports evidence that the affinity agent immobilized in our Hemopurifier® to facilitate selective yet rapid clearance of circulating viral and cancer promoting targets is able to bind lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and other factors implicated in the pathogenesis of sepsis. Perhaps these findings in combination with industry colleague advances will lead to a device that saves the lives of sepsis patients.