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Harvard’s Wyss Institute launches updated sepsis therapeutic device

Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has launched an updated version of its blood-cleansing device that treats sepsis by mimicking human spleen.

sepsis device

The new device synergises with conventional antibiotic therapies and has been streamlined to be ready for near-term translation to the clinical trials.

The device uses Wyss Institute’s genetically engineered Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) protein, called FcMBL, and hence can be administered quickly, even without identification of the infectious agent.

FcMBL binds all types of live and dead infectious microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, as well as toxins released by them.

As per the original device concept, infected blood in an animal or humans is flowed from one vein through catheters to the device where FcMBL-coated magnetic beads are added to the blood.

The bead-bound pathogens are extracted from the circulating blood by magnets within the device before the cleansed blood is returned to the subject through another vein.

Boston Children’s Hospital Wyss Institute and Research Fellow 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 the ability of the FcMBL protein to bind to all different kinds of live or dead pathogens and toxins, while removing the complexity, regulatory challenges and cost associated with the magnetic beads and microfluidic architecture of its predecessor.

The optimized system features hollow fibre filters found in already-Food and Drug Administration-approved dialysis cartridges whose inner walls are coated with FcMBL protein to remove pathogens from circulating blood.

Treatment with the new pathogen-extracting device in animal studies 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 to demonstrate 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: © 2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College.