Washington: In search of a way to clear infections, US researchers have developed an artificial "biospleen" to filter blood.
The hi-tech method inspired by the spleen can clean blood quickly of everything from E.coli to Ebola, the team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in Boston, Massachusetts reported.
"The device uses a modified version of mannose-binding lectin (MBL), 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," explained Donald Ingber, a bioengineer at the Wyss Institute
To test the device, Ingber and his team infected rats with either E.coli or Staphylococcus aureus and filtered blood from some of the animals through the "biospleen".
Five hours after infection, 89 percent of the rats whose blood had been filtered were still alive, compared with only 14 percent of those that were infected but not treated.
Researchers found that the device had removed more than 90 percent of the bacteria from the rats' blood.
The researchers then tested whether the "biospleen" could handle the volume of blood in an average adult human - about five litres.
They ran human blood containing a mixture of bacteria and fungi through the "biospleen" at a rate of one litre per hour and found that the device removed most of the pathogens within five hours.
"The 'biospleen' could also help to treat viral diseases such as HIV and Ebola in which survival depends on lowering the amount of virus in the blood to a negligible level," Ingber emphasised in a paper reported in the journal Nature Medicine.