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New Class of Peptides May Protect Against Septic Shock

A new class of peptides may neutralize the endotoxin that causes sepsis, offering a new therapeutic strategy against an often lethal systemic bacterial infection. The researchers from Germany and Spain detail their findings in the September 2010 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Septic shock, caused by systemic bacterial infections, kills more than 200,000 people each year in the U.S. alone despite intensive antibiotic treatment. Researchers are now looking to other resources such as natural proteins and peptides to neutralize the bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or endotoxin that causes sepsis, however, prior studies required such high peptide/LPS ratios that the peptide concentrations were deemed too toxic for human use.

Here, researchers designed a completely new class of peptides, synthetic anti-LPS peptides (SALPs), and preclinical studies in a mouse model showed high LPS neutralizing activity and significant protection against septic shock. Additionally, low toxicity levels potentially safe for humans were observed.

"Our results delineate a novel therapeutic strategy for the clinical management of patients with septic shock," say the researchers.

(T. Gutsmann, I. Razquin-Olazaran, I. Kowalski, Y. Kaconis, J. Howe, R. Bartels, M. Hornef, T. Schurholz, M. Rossle, S. Sanchez-Gomez, I. Moriyon, G. Martinez de Tejada, K. Brandenburg. 2010. New antiseptic peptides to protect against endotoxin-mediated shock. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 54. 9: 3817-3824.)

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