New Prophylactic Approach for Severe Infections and Inflammatory Lung Diseases

Researchers from Keio University are working on new medical technology to balance immunological and inflammatory reactions. They are also working on monitoring chips for the critically ill patients, quick diagnostic procedures for infectious diseases and materials for prevention of in-hospital infection

FUJISHIMA, Seitaro. Assistant Professor.
School of Medicine, Keio University.

Background and objective

As the population ages, the number of patients who suffer from severe infections such as sepsis and pneumonia are increasing in recent years. The number of non-infectious inflammatory lung diseases of unknown etiology is also increasing.

Recent researches have revealed that secondary immunological reaction plays more important roles in inducing lung injury than the toxins of pathogenic microbes. These overwhelming reactions are easily induced in patients with severe injuries, burns, and various critical illnesses.

Technology outline and features

When an individual suffers from any infectious diseases, injuries, or burn injury, an excessive inflammatory reaction frequently takes place in the body (systemic inflammatory reaction syndrome, SIRS), which sometimes induce the development of a serious inflammatory lung disease, called acute lung injury (ALI) or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Even if the criteria of SIRS were not fulfilled, there develops an immunological imbalance, which may trigger serious systemic condition (a "two-hit phenomenon") after secondary insults. Conversely, it also happens that normal defensive reactions are inhibited against pathogenic microbes, and patients died as a result of severe infections.

We have found that a bioactive substance called interleukin 18 (IL-18) decreases transiently after a burn insult and this is partly responsible for the aforementioned hypersensitive reaction. We are currently seeking to develop a IL-18-based new prophylactic strategy for ARDS. We are also pursuing new substances that will balance immunological and inflammatory reactions.

Introduction of study

We have examined the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory roles of cytokines and chemokines in inflammatory lung diseases and severe systemic infections. Recently, we have found that an immunological imbalance and a resultant host hyperresponsiveness play major roles in the acute exacerbation of patients' condition (Sasaki J: AJP 2003). We are now investigating the mechanisms of this augmented host responses and also developing prophylactic strategies for these conditions.

In efforts to contribute to clinical medicine, we are also making research of the following topics in collaboration with private firms and the faculty of science and technology and faculty of environmental information in our university.

1. Development of continuous monitoring chips for the critically ill patients
2. Development of quick and affordable diagnostic procedures for infectious diseases
3. Development of databases to support medical education and clinical practice
4. Development of materials for prevention of in-hospital infection

For inquiries about the technologies above, contact the
Intellectual Properties Center, Keio University
Direct line: +81-(0)35-427-1678
E-mail address: :< [email protected] >

Published: 14 Mar 2008


Contact details:

2-15-45 Mita Minato-ku Tokyo 108-8345 Japan

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