Scientists from the University of Utah Health Sciences isolated a factor from cord blood of newborns that could help them develop a new drug that fights harmful inflammation and sepsis.
This factor circulated in the blood of newborns only for a span of 2 weeks and was not found in older children and in adults. When this newly found factor was injected into mice it showed to counteract the symptoms of inflammation and sepsis such as fever, respiratory infections and even death.
Professor Christian Yost, associate professor of Paediatrics at the University of Utah said that the discovery of this substance was something they least expected. He also exclaimed that this invention can take them to venture into new strategies and therapies that can save lives.
Inflammation is generally seen, when your ankle gets twisted or when you are stung by a bee, these minor episodes are accompanied by the familiar signs of inflammation called rubor(redness), calor(warmth), dolor(pain) and tumor(swelling). These are positive signs showing that our body is mounting with its defense mechanisms against the foreign entry. But in certain cases, the very effect of inflammation can turn alarming causing damage of tissues. This kind of overreaction is seen in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and in hospital-borne infections.
According to Prof. Yost, the factor isolated from cord blood of babies was called Neonatal NET inhibitory factor (nNIF), named after its ability to inhibit the production of certain components of an inflammatory response called the “neutrophil extracellular traps”. The normal inflammatory response called as the NET apart from helping the body to ward off microbes also damages the blood vessels and organs during a septic phase.
Thus with the discovery of this factor named (nNIF),there was hope for critically ill patients to be treated with this potent tool detected in the cord blood. The researches on groups of mice also showed 20% chance of recovery and survival in untreated mice and 60% chance of survival and recovery in treated mice.
Uncontrolled sepsis can be lethal and this magic factor is offering us a huge hope to beat it said Prof. Yost by keeping the inflammatory response within its permissible limits. Another exciting observation of this factor was its disappearance in the baby’s bloodstream after 2 weeks of birth. Traces of this factor was also present in the placenta but this component was a less potent anti-inflammatory agent and the nature of this factor could keep the inflammation in the baby under tight control at birth.
But another counter intriguing fact about this factor was why nature was making babies, the most fragile beings to respond less with defense mechanism and the only speculation that doctors could come up with was to suppress the baby from mounting an inflammatory attack against its own mother, perceiving her to be an invader.
Thus Prof. Yost explained that there was a thin delicate line of balance between right and controlled defensive response and its flare up
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