Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has introduced an improved version of its blood-cleansing device that treats sepsis by mimicking the human spleen.
The new device synergises with legacy antibiotic therapies and has been streamlined to boost its readiness for near-term translation to clinical trials.
The device uses the institute's genetically engineered Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) protein, called FcMBL, which allows it be administered quickly, even without identification of the infectious agent.
FcMBL is capable of binding all types of live and dead infectious microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, as well as toxins released by them.
Under the original device concept, infected blood in an animal or humans is flowed from one vein through catheters to the device where it is diluted with FcMBL coated magnetic beads.
Magnets within the device subsequently extract bead-bound pathogens from circulating blood before returning the cleansed blood to the subject through another vein.
Boston Children's Hospital Wyss Institute postdoctoral fellow Tohid Fatanat Didar said: "Using the device, alone or alongside antibiotics, we can quickly bring blood back to normal conditions, curtailing an inflammatory response rather than exacerbating it."
The upgraded device retains FcMBL functionality, but eliminates the complex regulatory challenges and cost associated with the magnetic beads and microfluidic architecture of its predecessor.
The optimised system features hollow fibre filters found in US Food and Drug Administration approved dialysis cartridges whose inner walls are coated with FcMBL protein to remove pathogens from circulating blood.
During animal studies, the pathogen extracting device is said to have reduced the number of E coli, Staphylococcus aureus and endotoxins circulating in the bloodstream by more than 99%.
After proving the device's efficacy in small animal studies, the Wyss team intends to move to large animal studies as a next step towards demonstrating the proof-of-concept that is required before proceeding to human clinical trials.
Image: The blood-cleansing device connected to a dialysis-like circuit is harbouring a dense pack of parallel running hollow fibres whose inner surfaces are coated with FcMBL. Photo: courtesy of President and Fellows of Harvard College 2015.