Scientists at Cortech Inc. in Denver have developed antagoniststo kinins that have shown an ability in animal models toprevent death from septic shock.

Kinins are made in many tissues and have potent properties incommon, most notably that they produce pain andinflammation. Bradykinin is the best-known, and is implicatedin many diseases, including arthritis, pancreatitis, circulatoryshock, migraine, psoriasis and asthma.

Cortech presented data on its kinin blockers at a Septemberconference in Munich. The compound, which is cross-linked toprolong its action, prevented death in animals given lethaldoses of endotoxin. At the same conference, NovaPharmaceutical Corp. of Baltimore reported that its blocker,based on an ether of the amino acid hydroxyproline, performedsimilarly.

These animal models of septic shock are similar to those usedto test the monoclonal antibodies to tumor necrosis factor andantagonists to interleukin-1, which along with monoclonalantibodies to endotoxin are in the running as treatments forthe often-fatal bodywide infection.

In a letter published Saturday in The Lancet, the Cortechresearchers point out that Hoechst A.G. has also beeninvestigating the kinin strategy as a route to stopping septicshock.

The researchers noted that with the proliferation ofapproaches being touted for treating septic shock, "bothclinicians and research workers will need to keep open, butcritically discerning minds as these agents become generallyavailable.

"The potential for improvement in patient care is enormous --but so is the potential for waste as the number of therapeuticinterventions multiply," the scientists wrote. -- RF

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