A Medical Breakthrough That Hits Close to Home

Researchers at Western University believe they have a potential treatment for the number one cause of in-hospital deaths. And it happens to be what felled me in February 2011: sepsis. 

Sepsis starts with an infection that spreads to the blood and if the immune system doesn’t take care of it, it produces toxins that attack the organs.  There’s no treatment right now and it’s so easily misdiagnosed that 80% of people who get an advanced case don’t make it. In case you weren’t here back then, to encapsulate, I was misdiagnosed as having the flu and didn’t get medical intervention until I was within 12 hours of that irreversible state.  A 3-month recovery followed – and I was lucky to recover.

I interviewed the lead researcher, Dr. QingPing Feng at Western and it was pretty cool.  He has devoted his career to trying to treat this ubiquitous illness and he got as big a kick out of talking to someone who survived it as I did talking to someone who’s trying to take it from deadly to benign.

In a nutshell they’ve isolated a protein called Annexin A-5 that reversed heart damage in mice with sepsis.  Now they try it on other organs and then work their way to human trials.  But they’re very excited about the initial findings which Dr. Feng says researchers around the world have been working on for about 30 years.

It still amazes me that so little is known and so few people are aware of a disease that affects 18-million people a year.  So I attempt to do my part to change that and maybe save a life.