Research into treatment for sepsis, one of the world’s major health problems, is underway at Marshall University.
An article on the study, “Therapeutic Potential of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles for the Treatment of Peritonitis Induced by Polymicrobial Insult in Sprague-Dawley Rats,” will appear in a future issue ofCritical Care Medicine.
Peritonitis, an infection of the abdominal cavity, sometimes leads to sepsis, also known as blood poisoning.  Sepsis kills more people on an annual basis than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined and is the number one of killer of critically ill patients and infants.
The research studies at Marshall have demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide, widely used as a polishing agent and as an additive to increase fuel efficiency, may be useful for the treatment of sepsis. The data in the study by Eric R. Blough, Ph.D., Nandini D.P.K. Manne, Ph.D. and colleagues at Marshall’s Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems indicate that cerium oxide nanoparticles improve animal survivability following a severe polymicrobial episode in the laboratory rat.
Some studies have found that cerium oxide nanoparticles may also be capable of acting as antioxidants and as anti-inflammatory agents, leading researchers to investigate the potential applications of these nanoparticles for biomedical purposes. Blough, a professor at Marshall’s School of Pharmacy, said the study could potentially lead to development of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of sepsis.
Lead author Manne, who is the senior postdoctoral scientist on the project, says the particles may have widespread application for use in the third world or for military use because of their stability in diverse environments.
“The particles are likely to be quite stable at a wide range of temperatures and do not require any special handling or storage,” Manne said.  “Because they appear to function by decreasing the release of cytokines and chemokines from the liver, we are hoping that they could be used to prevent the shock and organ injury seen with several types of infectious agents, severe trauma, burns, radiation and spinal injury. Our next step is to determine the precise mechanism of action to see if this approach could ever be a viable treatment for use in human patients.”
The research was supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, grant DE-PS02-09ER09-01.  For more information, contact Eric Blough at or 304-696-2708.