A new study found that certain immune cells primarily associated with asthma and allergies may enhance innate immunity and improve clearance of bacterial infections and may be an effective new therapy against bacterial infections and sepsis in humans. The researchers from Oregon Health and Science University, Portland and the Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona report their findings in the November 2009 issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.
Sepsis, the systemic inflammatory response to infection, affects more than 700,000 people annually in the U.S. alone and is the leading cause of death in the intensive care unit. Ninety percent of reported cases are attributed to bacterial infections and mortality rates remain at 25% despite high quality supportive care and antibiotic treatment. Innate immune responses are vital to containing bacterial pathogens and recent studies link sepsis with impaired immunity. Antibiotic resistance and an increase in the mortality rate of sepsis patients due to the use of inappropriate antibiotics, as well as the role of the innate immune response in pathogen control highlight the need for new antimicrobial therapies.