Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How the battle of Waterloo could help doctors fight death from multiple organ failure

23.11.2004


Waterloo’s battlefield is reigniting the debate about whether modern medicine is always good for you, according to University College London (UCL) scientists who are launching a study of why some critically ill patients recover and others die from multiple organ failure - the number one killer of patients in intensive care.

Speaking today at a public lecture held in London, Professor Mervyn Singer from UCL’s Institute of Intensive Care Medicine said the impressive survival statistics of injured soldiers at the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar serve as a reminder of how we underestimate the human body’s ability to heal itself under the most extreme conditions. Of the 52 privates in the 13th Light Dragoons wounded by sabre, gunfire and cannon injuries at Waterloo, only two subsequently died.

Prof Singer says: “Despite the non-existence of antibiotics, blood transfusions, life-support machines and other paraphernalia of modern intensive care, most of these soldiers recovered, often from life-threatening injuries. Yet with all our technical advances in medicine, mortality rates from conditions such as sepsis (bacterial infection of the bloodstream) haven’t improved dramatically over the past century. “The question we need to ask ourselves is whether our present understanding of underlying pathology in medicine is leading us down the wrong path, and whether our current interventions may even be injurious to the healing process.



“Modern treatments trigger changes in the patient’s inflammatory and immune responses or influence circulatory, hormonal, bioenergetic and metabolic systems in ways we don’t appreciate. Even lowering the temperature of a feverish patient may be counter-productive. We may need to be more strategic in our treatments and therapies, tailoring them to how the body responds naturally to sepsis and other critical illnesses.”

Survival statistics from the battle of Waterloo throw up an even more radical theory – could it be that multiple organ failure, triggered by severe trauma or subsequent infection, actually represents the body’s last-ditch attempt to survive in the face of a critical illness? By switching itself off and becoming dormant, as with hibernating animals during extreme cold, the body may thus be able to tide itself through the critical period. Support for this theory comes from the fact that the organs invariably recover, to the point of appearing remarkably normal, within days to weeks when the patient survives.

Professor Singer and colleague Dr Paul Glynne from UCL’s Institute of Hepatology are about to embark on a large study of multiple organ failure induced by sepsis, which kills around a third of patients in intensive care. Ultimately, they hope that by understanding why people either survive or die from this condition, new therapies can be developed to reduce the period of illness and mortality rate.

Preliminary work suggests that the body’s ability to store and use energy efficiently may play a part in determining whether a patient will recover. A recent study by Dr Glynne and Prof Singer has linked leptin, the protein hormone regulating hunger, body weight and metabolism, to sepsis-induced organ failure and recovery.

Dr Glynne says: “The body’s inability to regulate energy expenditure seems to play a key role in the development of sepsis-induced multiple organ failure. We think that some septic patients become deficient in leptin and this leads to energy failure and subsequent organ dysfunction. Exploring the relationship between leptin, body energy regulation and the severity of critical illness will reveal whether leptin, or one of its downstream targets, could potentially be developed as a new therapy for septic patients with organ failure."
Professor Mervyn Singer’s lecture, “Are we Ignoring the Lessons of Waterloo at our (Patients’) Peril?” held today at 1pm at UCL, is part of a series of lunchtime lectures which are open to the general public.

For more information about UCL’s Lunch Hour Lectures, please visit http://www.ucl.ac.uk/registry/events/lhl/

Jenny Gimpel | alfa
Further information:
http://ww.ucl.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>