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Artificial Spleen coming soon?

Artificial Spleen coming soon?

Of interest to those concerned about future sepsis treatment options, a team led by Donald Ingber, a bioengineer at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in Boston, Massachusetts, has developed an artificial 'biospleen' to filter blood. While the developmental biospleen has a throughput of about 20% of a human spleen, it does have the advantage of being able to filter out most pathogens without having to first identify them. This can be critical with sepsis, where the underlying cause is only found about 50% of the time. The biospleen uses magnetic nano-particles coated with "a protein found in humans that binds to sugar molecules on the surfaces of more than 90 different bacteria, viruses and fungi, as well as to the toxins released by dead bacteria that trigger the immune overreaction in sepsis" The magnetic nano-particles can be magnetically separated from the filtered blood, which is then returned to the patient.


A trial on laboratory rats found that "Five hours after infection, 89% of the rats whose blood had been filtered were still alive, compared with only 14% of those that were infected but not treated."

More from Nature News:

Abstract in Nature:


Photo: Welcome to my 'back yard swimming pool', which is about 40km (24 miles) away...

4 Replies

Well I like your back yard swimming pool!! (and presumably you have an army of discrete bouncers to keep the riff raff away!)..........

So it got me thinking that you must be wealthy enough to fly us all out to test the waters!


Perhaps I should have said "Public swimming pool", though I'm sorry to say that swimming isn't permitted in that recreational lake and not just because of the fear of bunyip attack:

There are inland properties in my state in "station country" where 40km could be considered part of the back yard, but sadly I'm not an owner of one:

Rainfall in those inland areas can be so infrequent that children can get to school age without experiencing rain. Average rainfall is under 25cm/10 inches a year, but average is a bit of a misnomer, as upwards of a year's rainfall might arrive in a week and then there's a long, long wait until the next rains arrive...


I hope there are no crocs in your "back yard swimming pool".


But wait! There's more!! The USA's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a Dialysis-Like Therapeutics (DLT) program which aims to come up with a range of portable and ruggedized artificial spleens, or "biospleens," for use in fighting deadly battlefield infections without antibiotics, with one of the contenders using the above mentioned technology.

"The reason why infection is so dangerous in both the military and civilian spheres is because it can lead to sepsis. That is, the body overreacts to the infection with often fatal results. According to DARPA, 18 million people worldwide contract sepsis every year with a mortality rate of 30 to 50 percent.

The usual way to combat this is through antibiotics, but that brings its own problems. For one thing, in combat situations, surgeons use massive doses of antibiotics that in civilian life would be more suitable for treating an elephant. Another is that killing the bacteria causing the infection doesn't help if the toxins left behind aren't cleaned out. And even if successful, the routine use of antibiotics adds to the increasing danger of breeding antibiotic-resistant strains of microbes."

More in the link below, including futher details on how the magnetic nano-particle technology works:

With DARPA funding biospleen development, there's a better chance of these becoming common hospital equipment and perhaps being available to save our lives from sepsis or tumour lysis syndrome.



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