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Crop Biotech Update

Bio-Spleen Sucks Pathogens and Toxins from Blood

September 18, 2014

Scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering have successfully developed a bio-spleen, a device that cleans blood without a need to diagnose the infectious agent. Results have shown that the device seems to work even for antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In the device, blood is cycled outside the patient's body and gets filtered through microfluidic channels. The channels nanoscale-sized magnetic beads attached to an immune system protein. The protein naturally latches onto bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins. Then magnets pull the magnetic beads out of the blood, taking the attached pathogens and toxins along for the ride. The cleansed blood then flows back into the patient.

The device has been tested on infected rats and showed promising results. Ninety percent of the treated rats recovered using the device, while only 14 percent of the controls survived.

The research article on this study was published in Nature Medicine. Read more at http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/bio-spleen-sucks-pathogens-and-toxins-from-blood/.