The team from Harvard University have developed a new device for blood purification from bacteria, fungi and toxins.
As said fellow Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering Mike Super: "Sepsis kills at least eight million people worldwide each year and is the main cause of deaths in hospitals". The device, called the biospleen, exceeded the expectations of the developers, because of its ability to effectively purify human blood and increase survival in animals with infected blood. Within a few hours, it can filter live and dead pathogens from the blood, as well as dangerous toxins that are secreted from the pathogens.
Biospleen is a microfluidic device that consists of two adjacent hollow channels connected to each other through a series of slits: one channel bleeding, and the other has a saline solution that collects and removes the pathogens that pass through the slits. The key to the success of the new technology are tiny nanometer sized magnetic beads coated with natural immune protein mannose binding lectin (MBL).
The team first tested their system clean of human blood in the laboratory, which. It is filtered the blood much faster than before. Then they tested the device on rats that were infected with E. coli, S. aureus and toxins, mimicking many of the bloodstream infections with sepsis in humans. After five hours of filtering, about 90 percent of the bacteria and toxins were removed from the rats ' blood.
Super said, "We should not kill disease-causing microorganisms. We just captured and removed them. Moreover, 90 percent of the treated animals survived, compared to 14% in the control group." Another expert Don Ingber: "Sepsis is a major medical threat, which is growing out of resistance to antibiotics. We are pleased that the biospleen will give the opportunity to treat patients quickly without having to wait several days to determine the source of infection and it works equally well with antibiotic-resistant microorganisms".