New study uses genetics to identify best sepsis treatment

Gene sequence

New research has uncovered how different people respond to sepsis based on their genetics, which could lead to the development of targeted therapies.

The team from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Oxford, and collaborators built on their previous work that identified different subgroups of patients with sepsis.

The new study, published in Cell Genomics, details the genetic basis of variability in sepsis response, and the different regulators and cell types involved in the different immune responses in each subgroup of patients.

Having a more detailed understanding of sepsis at a molecular level could identify those who would benefit from different therapies, helping to design rapid tests, organise clinical trials, and develop targeted treatments based on the individual immune response.

The ultimate aim is for patients to receive the most effective treatment for their sepsis more quickly, based on their immune response rather than their symptoms. In the future, this approach to personalised medicine could also be applied to other less severe infections, not just sepsis.

Sepsis causes an estimated 11 million deaths worldwide per year, with one death every three seconds.

Identifying key genetic regulators

Previously, the researchers identified how expression of a small set of genes allowed them to categorise who was most at risk from poorer outcomes from sepsis and Covid-19.

Building on this work, the team investigated the expression quantitative trait locus (eQTLs). This provides insight into how an individual’s genetic makeup influences how they respond to sepsis and who would benefit from targeted therapies.

The team analysed data from the UK Genomic Advances in Sepsis (GAinS) study that contained 1,400 patients with sepsis due to community-acquired pneumonia and faecal peritonitis from intensive care units across the UK.

They found that genetic variation in groups of patients is associated with differences in immune response during sepsis. They then used this to identify key genetic regulators in each group, helping to describe what biological networks, cells, and mechanisms are involved in each response.

Dr Katie Burnham, first author from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “Our study is the next step towards being able to treat sepsis based on someone’s genetics and their particular immune response, instead of their symptoms, which can vary greatly from person to person.

“Our research found two groups of people, with opposite immune responses, and identified the genetic regulators involved. Being able to molecularly categorise patients with sepsis allows clinicians to correctly identify who could benefit from the available treatments and gives new direction to those developing targeted therapies.”

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

Related Articles

Join FREE today and become a member
of Drug Discovery World

Membership includes:

  • Full access to the website including free and gated premium content in news, articles, business, regulatory, cancer research, intelligence and more.
  • Unlimited App access: current and archived digital issues of DDW magazine with search functionality, special in App only content and links to the latest industry news and information.
  • Weekly e-newsletter, a round-up of the most interesting and pertinent industry news and developments.
  • Whitepapers, eBooks and information from trusted third parties.
Join For Free