"Artificial Spleen" Cleans Blood in Sepsis Treatment
the MPR take:
Mortality rates for sepsis have improved with early treatment using broad-spectrum antibiotics, but no medications currently exist to specifically target this often lethal condition. Researchers from Harvard University found inspiration from the spleen in developing a new technique to draw microbes and their toxins from the blood of patients with sepsis. In this therapy, tiny magnetic beads are coated with mannose-binding lectin (MBL) fragments and added to a microchiplike device; when the infected blood enters the device, the magnetic beads catch the bacteria and the blood enters 16 channels. A magnet then pulls the beads out of the blood as the blood flows across the device and the beads are contained in nearby channels containing saline. Initial testing with donated human blood contaminated with bacteria eliminated 90% of the microbes after the blood was filtered through the device five times. While not all toxins were successfully removed in later animal studies, the majority of the microbes that cause the most common forms of sepsis were removed. The device could also potentially remove other pathogens such as viruses and treat autoimmune diseases. Critics point out that not all patients with sepsis have microbes or toxins in their blood, but the project researchers believe that because antibiotics often help sepsis patients, reducing microbial numbers could be an effective treatment as well.
Sepsis remains one of the leading killers in the United States and the world. Now, researchers describe a novel way to treat the lethal condition by filtering microbes from patients' blood. They engineered a microchiplike device a little bigger than a deck of cards that works somewhat like a dialysis machine.
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