Science Daily reported yesterday that the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University is developing a sepsis therapeutic device –a so-called Spleen-on-a-chip–to treat blood infections.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded the Wyss Institute a $9.25 million contract to develop the technology, which is based on previous technology developed with DARPA support.
To perform the treatment, first doctors would treat the patient’s blood with magnetic nanobeads that have been coated with a genetically engineered variant of a human protein called opsonin. The protein allows the nanobeads to bind with a variety of pathogens, but not human blood contents. The blood would then be pumped through micro-channels lined with magnets that would separate pathogenic material , cleansing the blood in a manner comparable to the human spleen. The clean blood would then make its way back into the patient.
Bloodstream diseases are the leading cause of death for patients suffering severe illnesses and soldiers who suffer combat injuries.