Lab Canada

Researchers hope to change the face of sepsis treatment

Vancouver, BC – The human and financial cost of sepsis is staggering. Of the World Health Organization’s top 10 causes of death, four fulfill the definition of sepsis. Sepsis occurs when infection results in systemic inflammation and is termed ‘severe sepsis’ when accompanied by new organ dysfunction. The 28-day mortality rate of severe sepsis is 15-30% and increases to 20-60% when complicated by other conditions, which can lead to septic shock. Septic shock is a complication of an infection where toxins can initiate a full-body inflammatory response which can lead to respiratory, heart, or organ failure and death.


Treatment of sepsis includes early intravenous antibiotics and supportive resuscitation but there are currently no approved, effective drugs to treat sepsis. A new research project, funded in part by Genome British Columbia (Genome BC), Comparison of the efficacy of anti-PCSK9 biologics in the treatment of sepsis, is being led by Cyon Therapeutics Inc. The team behind Cyon, Drs. John Boyd, Keith Walley and Jim Russell and Mr. Paul Drohan, have identified a previously approved compound that is able to promote the pulling of sepsis inducing toxins out of the bloodstream through the elimination of cholesterol or more specifically the elimination of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) often referred to as bad cholesterol. The bacterial toxins that cause sepsis are shuttled via LDL, therefore eliminating LDL is expected to improved outcomes for patients with sepsis.


“All of this work is directed towards finding the right concentration of drug to maximize efficacy of septic treatment,” said Dr. Boyd, an associate professor at UBC and critical care physician at St. Paul’s Hospital. “I see patients in the ICU every day who suffer, and die, from sepsis; the hope for this work is that we make a difference to clinical outcomes in B.C., and beyond, on a daily basis.”


In addition to patient benefits, the potential market for an effective, directed sepsis therapeutic is massive. And, because the compounds being tested in this study against sepsis are already approved for other therapeutic indications, the team expects to be in Phase II clinical trials within two years.


“Genome BC’s investment into Cyon will lead to societal and commercial impacts,” said Dr. Alan Winter, president and CEO of Genome BC. “This is exactly the kind of partnership that we are looking for to advance local biotech companies while maximizing healthcare applications for British Columbians.”


Genome BC is supporting this research with an investment of over $210,000 through its Strategic Opportunities Fund for Industry (SOFi) program. The SOFi program seeks to accelerate commercial potential with local companies and facilitate collaboration with industry.