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Immune System Protein Predicts Toxic Shock Survival

Finding may enable investigators to screen lower risk patients from trials of new therapies

FRIDAY, Aug. 1, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A simple measure of an immune system protein called interleukin-8 (IL-8) can predict survival in children with septic shock, according to a study led by researchers at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Each year, about 4,000 children in the United States die from septic shock, an infection-related condition. IL-8 is secreted into the blood as part of the body's immune system response against infection. Previous research showed that high blood levels of IL-8 are associated with more severe cases of septic shock in children and an increased risk of death.

In this new study, researchers found an IL-8 blood level at or below 220 pg/ml (picograms per milliliter) is 95 percent accurate in predicting which children with septic shock can survive through conventional antibiotics and therapies for at least 28 days following admission to hospital.

In addition, measuring IL-8 levels would enable researchers to screen lower-risk patients out of interventional clinical trials of experimental therapies for septic shock, the study authors said.

"Using IL-8 as a biomarker to screen low-risk septic shock patients from clinical trials of experimental or potentially high-risk therapies is an effective strategy to improve the risk-to-benefit ratio of a given intervention," lead author Dr. Hector Wong, a physician and researcher of critical care medicine at Cincinnati Children's, said in a hospital news release.

"Excluding patients who respond to standard care would enable investigators to focus clinical trial enrollment on patients least likely to respond well to conventional methods and find the most effective new therapies," Wong added

The study was published in the Aug. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Wong plans to develop a point-of-care test that can be used to detect IL-8 in septic shock patients.

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about septic shock.

SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, Aug. 1, 2008
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