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New research identifies potential cause of septic shock

A fundamental new understanding indicates that a toxic by- product of the body’s own metabolism leads to .

Septic shock is a medical emergency in which an overwhelming infection causes blood pressure to drop to such low levels that are life threatening. The medical term for overwhelming infection is sepsis and it is estimated that there are more than a million cases of sepsis among hospitalized patients each year in the USA. Nearly half of these patients develop septic shock resulting in over 200,000 deaths per year in the United States alone with millions more dying worldwide.

Septic shock has long been attributed to an excessive reaction of the immune system to infectious agents however; the failure of multiple clinical trials directed at the immune response and the decline of immune responsiveness at the onset of septic shock casts serious doubt for a direct causal role of the immune system in the development of this life threatening condition.

“The time had arrived for a fundamentally new approach to septic shock” says Dr. Jay Pravda; author of a recent publication entitled “Metabolic Theory of Septic Shock” published in the May issue of the World Journal of Critical Care Medicine, in which he proposes a radically different pathogenesis for this frequently lethal condition. “An analysis of the evidence, Dr. Pravda goes on to say, led me to believe that septic shock is a metabolic disorder which results from the sustained high metabolic load placed on the body by a systemic infection leading to the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the blood”.

According to Dr. Pravda, hydrogen peroxide is a normal by-product of cellular metabolism, which can accumulate to toxic levels in the body during periods of extreme physiological stress, such as sepsis. Hydrogen peroxide can damage internal organs and blood vessels leading to multiple organ failure and very low blood pressure, which are characteristic of septic shock.

“Guided by this new theory, blood serum samples of individuals with septic shock were tested and found to contain very high levels of hydrogen peroxide with much lower blood levels in survivors, which supports this new mechanism of disease pathogenesis” states Dr. Pravda.

Based on this fundamentally new understanding of septic shock a novel therapy has been identified and is being evaluated by Therashock, a new company established by Dr. Pravda and other leaders in the field, which is dedicated to developing safe new treatments to prevent and reverse septic shock.

“We are developing a clinical protocol after which we expect to secure funding for our initial clinical studies. We feel we have a real treatment based on real science that has the potential of saving millions of lives every year” concluded Dr. Pravda.


Jay Pravda, “Metabolic theory of septic shock”, World J Crit Care Med. 2014 May 4; 3(2): 45-54, Published online 2014 May 4. doi: 10.5492/wjccm.v3.i2.45

Written by Kathryn Alastaire MSC
Director of Communications,