From Orlando, Fla., at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology
Sepsis is a lethal blood disorder that typically arises from bacterial infections. It's marked by organ damage caused by inflammation and blood vessel leakage. A synthetic version of activated protein C (ACP) is the sole drug approved to specifically attack sepsis, but it only slightly reduces the risk of death. Scientists had suggested that APC works by protecting healthy cells from dying and had found it to have anticoagulant effects.
A study in mice now finds that the anticoagulant property isn't APC's key attribute—in fact, it might even be a shortcoming. Instead, APC's value stems from its ability to attach to two proteins on the surface of cells. By binding to these two receptors, APC inhibits a death signal in a cell, says biologist Harmut Weiler of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.