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New Research Claims to Kill Deadly Pneumonia using hormones

Apr 11, 2017

New Research Claims to Kill Deadly Pneumonia using hormones

Researchers from the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine discovered a hormone that is accountable for curbing metabolism of iron and assists in combating life-threatening form of bacterial pneumonia, and that breakthrough might suggest an easy way to help vulnerable patients.

Researchers claim that this vital hormone which is crucial for preventing pneumonia bacteria from disseminating throughout the body. The hormone is called hepcidin and is developed in the liver and controls the bacteria from spreading by cloaking the iron content present in the blood, which the bacteria requires to survive and grow.

By invigorating the hormone in patients whose bodies are incapable of producing the appropriate amount of hepcidin, such patients with excess iron or liver disease, might aid their bodies efficiently famish the bacteria to death. That discovery can be a boon to life for such high risk patients, particularly as pneumonia bacteria grows escalating antibiotic resistant.

One of the lead researchers Borna Mehrad, MBBS, of UVA's Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine said: "The rate at which these organisms become resistant to antibiotics is far faster than the rate at which we come up with new antibiotics. It's a race, and they're winning it.”

Mehrad further feels that increasingly, for the treating such infections, the variety of antibiotics is getting limited, and there are times when there is no antibiotic meant for treating at all and that is a quite a dangerous and scary situation to be in.

How did the Hormone prove to be helpful?

Mehrad along with his entire team at the University of California, Los Angeles, noted that the genetically modified mice which was made to produce less amount of hepcidin was specifically more vulnerable to bacterial pneumonia. Almost all mice had the bacteria causing pneumonia spread to their bloodstream through their lungs, and eventually killing them. According to Mehrad, this is the same thing that happens to human body as well. He said, "The mice that lacked the hormone weren't able to hide iron away from the bacteria, and we think that's why the bacteria did so well in the blood."

According to one of the researcher and graduate student from Mehrad’s lab, Kathryn Michels noticed that several individuals lack hepcidin owing to liver disease or any kind of genetic illnesses. She says this situation is very common and said, "We think this line of research is very relevant to the many people who can't make this hormone very well and are, clinically, very susceptible to these infections."

Kathryn mentioned that a drug is being developed which imitates the working of hepcidin and can used to reduce the levels of iron in the bloodstream of patients suffering from pneumonia and are deficient of hepcidin. The drug was mainly produced for treating chronic iron overload, which is usually experienced in individuals with genetic hemochromatosis, however this new study might render yet another application to save lives.

Mehrad concluded saying they believe the interim treatment using this drug ought to be an efficient way for treating such pneumonia infections, since while experimenting in mice, it seemed to work well.

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