New findings from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine surprised researchers who found that patients who die from smoke inhalation had lower inflammatory responses in their lungs than patients who survive.

Normally, sicker patients tend to have more active inflammatory responses, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in burn victims.

"Perhaps a better understanding of this early pulmonary immune dysfunction will allow for therapies that further improve outcomes in burn care," wrote Christopher S. Davis, MD, MPH, a research resident in Loyola's Burn & Shock Trauma Institute.

Researchers studied 60 burn patients in Loyola’s Burn Center, and found that those who mounted a robust immune system response were more likely to survive.

Dr. Davis suggests age, genetics, and differences in patients' underlying health conditions may be the cause to a variation in immune response to smoke inhalation.

The study is published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research.