Lawson discovery could save ‘millions’ from sepsis

on July 21, 2014

London’s medical research institute hopes a new project with an old friend will take seed in already fertile ground in China.

On Friday (July 18) Dr. David Hill, the scientific director of Lawson Health Research Institute, signed an agreement with the head of development at Yabao Pharmaceutical Group to fast-track the development of a drug that in animal trials boosted the chances of surviving sepsis by as much as 50 percent.

Sepsis is a leading killer worldwide, with about 18 million cases resulting in six million deaths each year, and Hill believes it’s underreported, possibly by tens of millions.

That’s because it’s a complex and underdiagnosed condition, an overwhelming immune response to infection that causes inflammation, organ damage and death within four weeks in 30 percent of patients.

By the numbers, that makes sepsis three times more likely to kill you than a heart attack.

But a protein discovered by Lawson/Western University researcher Dr. Qingping Feng reduces inflammation and improves circulation (cardiac function), which in mice kept more of them alive long enough for antibiotics to clear the infection. The survival rate went from nine percent to about 50 percent if Annexin A5 is administered right away, and to about 39 percent if there’s a delay of four hours after sepsis sets in.

The drug will be developed to FDA (U.S.) standards in China, where Yabao will retain licencing rights to the drug, should one be approved, and will share all development data with international labs working under the auspices of Lawson to fast-track commercialization in other countries. Lawson will retain the rights for Annexin A5 for the rest of the world.

The financial details of the deal are secret, but according to Lawson sepsis costs the Canadian health care system about a billion dollars a year, with almost every diagnosed case involving time in the intensive care unit (ICU).

It works out to about $32 a second for every sepsis admission, and the number of cases is expected to grow by about 1.5 percent, or another $1.5 million, each year.

But it’s not all about the money according to Deputy Premier and London North Centre MPP Deb Matthews, who joined Mayor Joni Baechler to greet the delegation from China Friday afternoon.

Matthews said Premier Kathleen Wynne would be excited to hear the news as China is the destination of her first official international visit and she’s focused on working with partners globally to benefit “humanity.”

“Brilliant minds in Ontario and China … have the opportunity to do something very important,” she said. “This is the way of the future.”

Doing business in China is at least 20 years old for Western according to vice-president of research Dr. John Capone. He said the university already holds 10 licensing agreements with partners there, with more in the pipeline.

Officials all around said this partnership is seen as the beginning of bigger and better things; Western, Yabao and Lawson are all focused on advancing their respective causes through international collaboration.

Yabao research and development president Dr. Peng Wang Yang said his boss, the chairman of the company, visited London last year to hear presentations and upon his return to China said “this is the one I like most.”

“Yabao is very excited about this partnership.”

source: London Community News

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