'Biospleen' Device Developed To Cleanse Blood in Sepsis Treatment

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'Biospleen' Device Developed To Cleanse Blood in Sepsis Treatment

Doctors know that sepsis in a patient can spread too fast for antibiotics to help. Sepsis (infection) is a life threatening condition in which bacteria or fungi multiply in a patients blood. A research team from Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a bio-spleen device. Modeled to mimic a human spleen, it presents a novel way for doctors to treat sepsis. According to Mike Super, Ph.D. ,a senior staff scientist at the Wyss Institute, "even with the best current treatments, sepsis patients are dying in intensive care units at least 30 percent of the time." The bio-spleen exceeded the research teams expectations with its ability to cleanse human blood tested in the lab and increase survivability in animals with infected blood as reported in the journal Nature Medicine. How It Works It can filter live and dead infectious organisms (pathogens) from the blood in a matter of hours. in lab tests, the bio-spleen successfully cleaned dangerous toxins that are released by pathogens. The bio-spleen is a 'microfluidic device that consists of two adjacent hollow channels that are connected to each other by a series of slits -- one containing flowing blood and the other has a saline solution that collects and removes the pathogens that travel through the slits. The key to success in the devices' mechanism are tiny nanometer -sized magnetic beads that are coated with a genetically engineered version of a natural immune system protein called mannose binding lectin (MBL). Sepsis is triggered when a patient's' immune system overreacts to an infection in the bloodstream. This sets up a chain reaction that can cause inflammation, blood clotting, organ damage and death. It can be caused by a variety of infections including appendicitis, urinary tract infections, skin or lung infections as well as contaminated IV lines, surgical sites and catheters. The impact of this research can potentially reduce the major medical threat of sepsis by providing a way to treat patients quickly without having to wait days to identify the source of infection. It also works well against antibiotic resistant organisms. This research was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Dialysis-Like Therapeutics program, the Department of Defense/Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.


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