Sepsis, the leading cause of death in hospitals throughout the United States, is caused when someone has a severe reaction to germs and bacteria. It often occurs as a complication to an infection or a surgery, when the immune system has been weakened and is unable to fight off bacteria. Considering how frequently sepsis occurs, it is surprising how under-represented it is in health talks and research. One researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara was recently awarded a $3.5 million grant from the NIH Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to continue his work on increasing sepsis survival rates. (Image on right courtesy of Wikimedia).Jamey Marth, the director of UCSB’s Center for Nanomedicine (CNM) and a professor of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, received the $3.5 million award to continue his work of finding new ways to better understand, detect and treat sepsis.
Marth explained that “on average and even among patients in the developed world, 30 percent of those diagnosed with sepsis will die due to the severe inflammation and coagulopathy associated with this syndrome, while limb amputation, organ dysfunction and cognitive decline are common outcomes among survivors of severe sepsis and septic shock. No new effective treatments for sepsis have been developed in decades."
In previous research, Jamey Marth and his research team identified a protective mechanism in the liver that can be used therapeutically. They discovered that they could use the enzyme Neuraminidase in the protective system to block the deadly blood coaguation and thrombosis that sepsis often creates. They tested this in bacterial models and found that survival rates increased. Since UCSB does not have its own hospital or medical school, the research team will now be able to use this new grant to help create clinical trials to use this method on human patients at the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, the closest hospital to UCSB.
Since UCSB does not have a medical school or hospital, researchers on this project will have to drive down the street to the Santa Barbara City Cottage Hospital (Image courtesy of Wikimedia)
“With this grant, we will be able to more rapidly and more effectively follow up on our earlier discoveries of a completely new approach to the treatment of sepsis that once in the clinic may save millions of lives,” said Marth.
Dr. Jeffrey Fried, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Cottage Hospital, said that “it’s rare for a university without an official medical affiliation to get this kind of large grant. For the NIH to award this is a real testament to the work Jamey is doing at UCSB, and the ideas and techniques he and his collaborators are developing. These are novel and new things that need to be explored."
The University of California Santa Barbara campus (Image courtesy of Wikimedia)
Even though UCSB does not have an official medical affiliation and no medical school, it is still a top ranked research institution that receives a considerable amount of research funding annually from both private and public sources:
- In the 2013 fiscal year, UCSB received a total of $18,453,859 in life science funding from the NIH
- The NIH awarded UCSB researchers a 5-year, $4.5 million grant for the study of artificial pancreas
- UCSB has opened its Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, the final stem cell research facility funded by the state stem cell agency. The agency gave $3.2 million, which was matched by $3.2 million from the university to renovate the existing laboratory space into a state-of-the-art stem cell research facility.
- UCSB Marine Science Institute received two multi-year grants totaling over $1 million to further study kelp and coral reefs, where two separate teams will tackle various aspects of the research.
Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. produces an annual life science tradeshow at UCSB and more than 60 other universities around the United States that give life science researchers the opportunity to meet with scientific supply companies to find the best new products to benefit their work. More information about the upcoming 6th annual BioResearch Product Faire™ event at UCSB can be found by clicking the links below.