Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professor, PhD, recently received a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to continue his search to identify different proteins associated with sepsis, which could lead to a targeted treatment for the condition. This is the fourth NIH grant since 2002 that Wang has received for sepsis research.
Sepsis affects more than one million Americans annually—up to 50 percent of whom die. The condition is a life-threatening, body-wide immune system reaction to an infection, which commonly presents symptoms such as fever, swelling, pain, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, chills and disorientation. While recent research has pinpointed warning signs to identify and protocols to help with the different sepsis symptoms, more understanding of the biological mechanisms is required to develop a treatment for the condition. Fluids and antibiotics are currently administered to reduce the inflammation in sepsis patients, but it remains unclear what the root cause of inflammation may be.
“Our work shows that TTN decreases the amount of HMGB1 released by immune cells,” said Wang. “With this continued support from the NIH/NIGMS, we hope to fully understand the relationship between TTN and HMGB1 in order to develop possible therapies for sepsis.”
Previous research conducted by Wang, along with Chief Scientific Officer of the Feinstein Institute Dr. Ping Wang and Feinstein president and CEO Dr. Kevin J. Tracey, found that the protein HMGB1 released by the cells in our immune system accelerates the dysregulated inflammation associated with sepsis. In his current study, Wang believes his research team has identified a particular protein called tetranectin (TTN), which could reduce the amount of HMGB1 released in sepsis patients.
“Sepsis is a lethal and common syndrome, and the available treatments are inadequate—research into this problem is in the national interest,” said Tracey. “The NIH’s continued support of Dr. Haichao Wang is evidence of the outstanding contributions he has made to understanding this deadly problem.”
Wang and his team will be examining the levels of TTN and HMGB1 in mice to map the different ways TTN and HMGB1 are interacting to increase or reduce the inflammation related to sepsis.