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New Device Treats Acute Kidney Injury from Sepsis

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 15 Apr 2024
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Image: The therapeutic tool can be used for children with kidney issues stemming from sepsis (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: The therapeutic tool can be used for children with kidney issues stemming from sepsis (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Sepsis, commonly referred to as "blood poisoning," can occur due to any infectious agent, triggering a systemic response by the body to combat the infection. This response involves the activation of circulating white blood cells. The critical severity of sepsis stems not from the infectious agent itself, but rather from the excessive and often detrimental response of white blood cells. When this response becomes uncontrolled and prolonged, these cells start to indiscriminately attack not only the pathogens but also the body’s own tissues. Until now, the options available for effectively treating sepsis were scarce. Now, a new, commercially viable method offers fresh hope to thousands of children suffering from acute kidney injury who develop this often deadly condition.

The therapeutic device has been invented and developed at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI, USA) for use in children with acute kidney injury and sepsis or a septic condition requiring continuous kidney replacement (dialysis with the artificial kidney) therapy in the intensive care unit. The device, known as the selective cytopheretic device (SCD) or Quelimmune, addresses the primary cause of death in septic patients, which is the uncontrolled and excessive inflammatory response that leads to the white blood cells damaging the body’s own organs.

The SCD is connected to a pump outside the body that pumps the blood through the device. The SCD selectively traps the dysregulated white cells, uses pharmacologic manipulation to calm the white cells, and then releases them back into the bloodstream. The effectiveness of this approach was validated by pooled data from two pediatric clinical trials, leading to its FDA approval in March 2024 for treating pediatric patients with severe sepsis and multiorgan failure. Given that more children die annually from sepsis than from all pediatric cancers combined, medical professionals are hopeful that SCD will significantly improve survival rates.

"Sepsis starts as a local infection, but once it gets into the bloodstream, there's a high mortality rate even if the patient starts an antibiotic,” said H. David Humes, MD, professor of nephrology and internal medicine. “Our technology focuses not on treating the bacteria, but treating this dysregulated immunologic system that is overreacting and destroying tissues within the body. That's the breakthrough with this technology.”

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