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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition that has claimed the lives of many around the world. In this condition, the function of the lungs becomes compromised enough to prevent the oxygenation of the blood resulting in oxygen deficit in the body organs.
Many treatments have been used for the treatment of ARDS but none has been successful in reducing the high mortality rate associated with it. During the course of a recent study, scientists have developed a new drug for the management of ARDS that can help save many young lives around the globe.
The study was led by Professor Kanwaljeet Anand. The results of the study were later published in Frontiers in Pediatrics. The study entailed a randomized controlled trial during which different children suffering from ARDS, being monitored in the ICU and undergoing mechanical ventilation to aid breathing, were treated with methylprednisolone, a steroid drug and the effects of this drug were subsequently studied.
Steroids as Potential Treatment for ARDS
In order to come up with an effective therapy for the treatment of ARDS, the researchers further tried to understand the precise mechanisms by which steroids affect the inflamed lungs. They identified and separated five biomarkers whose concentration was found to be abnormally high in patients of ARDS. These biomarkers are associated with the processes of blood clotting, white blood cell activation and injury to the endothelial cells, the cells lining the walls of lungs and blood vessels.
The next step in the study was to pinpoint the differences between the concentrations of these biomarkers in children with ARDS with those in healthy children. This proved to be the first big step towards the formulation of a framework for the identification of these biomarkers in order to develop a precise treatment for ARDS.
The researchers found that the steroid drugs act through inhibition of activation of neutrophils which in turn, results in reduction in the amount of MMP-8 biomarker in the serum. It was observed that high levels of this biomarker indicate that the patient is more responsive to treatment with steroids as compared to the other patients.
The Future Prospects
The next stage of the investigation will entail studies on larger control groups of children in an attempt to study how different reasons of lung injury affect the concentration of these biomarkers in children with ARDS. More underlying relationships will also be studied, for instance, the effect of age and sex.
The study has proved to be a big step forward towards the development of a targeted treatment for ARDS in children. Although this study is still in rather infant stages, it has proved that steroids hold promise for the treatment of children suffering from ARDS.