For Juntao Luo, finding a cure for severe sepsis is personal. The SUNY Upstate Medical University associate professor of pharmacology recalls that his brother spent several months in intensive care after contracting an infection that stimulated an extreme and life-threatening immune response.
Severe sepsis develops when an infection causes hyperinflammation, which can lead to organ failure and death. “Gladly he was young and got through it,” said Luo, noting that the experience inspired him to use his knowledge to improve survival rates for severe sepsis. Working in the Sepsis Interdisciplinary Research Center at Upstate, Luo developed a new nanoformulation that inhibits inflammation at the molecular level.
Treating sepsis as early as possible is critical to save lives. Luo’s technology includes a nanocarrier that will allow doctors to administer antibiotics with inflammation controlin their offices rather than in a hospital, reducing the time between diagnosis and treatment. “The TAF investment allowed us to test the nanoformulation for proof-of-concept and get the data we need to apply for larger grants that will help us advance the technology to the next level and, ultimately, bring it to the marketplace,” Luo explained.
Luo’s innovation has potential beyond treating sepsis. His nanocarrier is a platform technology that can be customized for individual drug molecule delivery and can be applied for severe Covid, immunotherapy cancer treatments and other therapies.