Researchers at Marshall University have developed a method for treating sepsis, one of the world’s major health problems, and other inflammatory disorders using cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2 NPs.)

The researchers have been awarded a U.S. patent for the method and associated applications, which are now available for licensing through the Marshall University Technology Transfer Office.

Eric Blough, Ph.D., a professor at the school of pharmacy, said the novel method of cerium oxide nanoparticles application opens up new doors to treat sepsis and other disorders including alcoholic liver disease and the inflammation seen after trauma, severe burns or spinal injury.

“Sepsis is a serious complication caused by the body’s overwhelming response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, multi-organ failure and death,” Blough said.  “Current treatment strategies, which include the use of antibiotics, fluid resuscitation and additional support based on the symptoms, fail to address the needs of patients adequately. With the increase in antibiotic resistance and emergence of multidrug resistant pathogens, current treatment modalities are increasingly being challenged. Our method for treating sepsis using cerium oxide nanoparticles addresses this aptly without any potential concern for antibacterial resistance.”

Nandini D.P.K. Manne, Ph.D., a researcher at Marshall’s Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems and lead author on several of the publications generated from the research, said the dependence on nanomaterials in our day-to-day life for non-medical applications is increasing at a tremendous rate, but the biomedical application of these materials is still in its infancy.

“Our method shows that nanoparticles can be used to treat sepsis effectively,” Manne said. “One major advantage is the lack of necessity for any refrigeration and long shelf life, which suggests that cerium oxide nanoparticles may be ideal for treating sepsis in resource-poor environments where proper medical and storage facilities are totally lacking. The biological applications of cerium oxide nanoparticles are enormous and could be used to address many unmet medical needs.”

The treatment, researchers say, involves the nanoparticles being injected into a vein after which they passively target liver Kupffer cells and exert the beneficial effects.

Cerium oxide is widely used as a polishing agent for glass mirrors, in sunscreens, ophthalmic lenses and in the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency. Some studies have found that cerium oxide nanoparticles may also be capable of acting as antioxidants, leading researchers to investigate the potential biomedical applications of these nanoparticles.

For more information, contact Blough at  or 304-696-2708.