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The complex and trivial nature of the coronavirus has certainly amplified the need to understand how complex infections lead to complications that can be life-threatening. Scientists are already studying sepsis and a recent breakthrough in identifying the gene that triggers inflammation and cell death might be the key to solving the sepsis puzzle.

Scientists from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia recently made the critical discovery that may give modern medicine an advantage over sepsis. The discovery was courtesy of research whose findings were recently published in the Nature Immunology journal. The researchers found that deleting a protein receptor called TREML4 in experiments resulted in better protection against lood-born Candida infection that is common in invasive medical procedures and protection from sepsis-induced pneumonia.

“The initial inflammatory phase, or septic shock, is followed by a prolonged immunosuppression phase, which commonly leads to pneumonia,” stated Dr. Christina Nedeva, the lead researcher in the study as he explained the two deadly stages of sepsis.

Why the recent discovery is a game-changer

Dr. Nedeva also noted that the immunosuppression phase of sepsis leads to 85 percent of sepsis-related deaths while the remaining 15 percent of the deaths occur in the shock phase. He also revealed that the research revealed that the TREML4 gene plays a crucial role in regulating the two phases. Hamsa Puthalakath, the lead supervisor in the study pointed out that existing therapies for sepsis such as steroids are used to control inflammation and also to reduce the time that patients take in the ICU. The downside to this approach is that it does not help to reduce patient deaths from sepsis.

The above partly explains why the recent discovery is so weighty. Removal of TREML4 not only helps to reduce the inflammation but also allows the immune system to remain strong enough to combat infection. Researchers already pinpointed the TREML4 receptor equivalent in humans. The discovery means that there is finally an approach that reduces sepsis death in humans. Researchers now want to shift their attention to developing therapeutic antibodies that will block the TREML4 receptors.