A study led by Dr. Youyang Zhao from Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has discovered promising treatment approaches for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in the elderly. ARDS can be caused by severe COVID-19, pneumonia, flu, or sepsis, and currently, there are no pharmacological or cell-based treatments available.
Dr. Zhao’s research focused on the gene FOXM1, which is crucial in the repair of blood vessels by regenerating endothelial cells that line the lung vessels. The study found that aging impairs FOXM1 expression, which may explain the high fatality rate of ARDS in individuals over 75 years of age, which is 10 times higher compared to young adults.
Using a mouse model, the researchers demonstrated that FOXM1 expression can be reactivated through two methods, leading to improved survival from ARDS in aged mice. Additionally, the study found that FOXM1 expression was inhibited in elderly COVID-19 patients. These findings were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
One approach to reactivating FOXM1 expression involved a low dose of decitabine, an FDA-approved cancer drug that is currently being tested for severe COVID-19 treatment. Dr. Zhao’s research suggests that a lower and safer dose could be used, specifically targeting older patients.
Dr. Zhao also demonstrated the effectiveness of an alternative approach using endothelium-targeted nanoparticle gene delivery, a technology developed and patented by his team. This approach delivers FOXM1 only to the endothelial cells, where it is needed for lung injury repair and regeneration.
Further testing is required for the nanoparticle gene delivery system before clinical use. Dr. Zhao’s findings pave the way for potential treatments for ARDS in the elderly, with the aim of promoting recovery and reducing mortality.
Source: [Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago](source-article)