Sepsis breakthrough on horizon thanks to $4.9m funding boost

Researchers from The Florey will lead a major clinical trial across Australia to test a new treatment for people with sepsis in intensive care units.

Responsible for 11 million deaths every year globally, sepsis is when the body’s dysregulated immune response to an underlying infection starts attacking its vital organs – often leading to multiple organ failure.

A formulation developed at The Florey has provided researchers with hope. Sodium ascorbate is a pH-balanced formulation of vitamin C that, in recent preclinical studies, has shown to reverse sepsis-induced brain, kidney and cardiovascular dysfunction.

With a $4.9m funding boost from the Australian Government announced yesterday (14 March), the Florey-patented formulation can move into the next phase of clinical trials.

The research program’s lead investigator, The Florey’s Associate Professor Yugeesh Lankadeva, says this potentially life-saving treatment could be transformative for how sepsis is managed in Australia and across the world.

“The results of using sodium ascorbate in septic patients have been very promising so far,” said Associate Professor Lankadeva.

“This funding now enables us to further investigate the safety and efficacy of this treatment. It will also help us determine the optimal dose and treatment duration that can be used by clinicians in intensive care units.”

“It will also allow us to establish a National Sepsis Biobank; by collecting samples across Australia for immune and biochemical analysis, we can inform future research into personalised medicine for patients with sepsis.”

In one of the largest research collaborations led by The Florey, scientists and clinicians from Australia’s leading medical research institutes and public hospitals have come together to contribute to this work over the next five years.

“Sepsis incidence is rising every year due to our ageing population and increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in our community. We are all committed to finding a solution and we know, in order to do that, we need to collaborate.”

“We want to build an enduring national collaboration between scientists and clinicians to enact long-term transformative health changes beyond the life of this project.”

The core research team, led by Associate Professor Yugeesh Lankadeva, includes Professor Clive May, Dr Lindsea Booth, Dr Connie Ow, Dr Ashenafi Betrie, Dr Laura Cook, Dr Shu Wen Wen, Dr Samantha Emery, and clinical collaborators Professor Rinaldo Bellomo, Associate Professor Mark Plummer, Professor Antoine Roquilly, Dr Neil Glassford and Dr Alex Wood.

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Georgia Brown, Head of Communications and Engagement
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