Washington: Harvard scientists have developed a new `artificial spleen` to treat bloodstream infections - leading cause of death in critically ill patients and soldiers injured in combat.The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University said that it was awarded a USD 9.25 million contract from the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to further advance its blood-cleansing technology and help accelerate its translation to humans as a new type of sepsis therapy. The "Spleen-on-a-chip" device will be used to treat bloodstream infections that are the leading cause of death in critically ill patients, researchers said. To rapidly cleanse the blood of pathogens, the patient`s blood is mixed with magnetic nanobeads coated with a genetically engineered version of a human blood `opsonin` protein that binds to a wide variety of bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, and toxins.It is then flowed through micro-channels in the device where magnetic forces pull out the bead-bound pathogens without removing human blood cells, proteins, fluids, or electrolytes - much like a human spleen does. The cleansed blood then flows back to the patient.
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