Spleen-on-a-chip pulls dangerous pathogens from blood

Credit: Wyss Institute

The spleen filters all sorts of bad stuff out of blood, but an ill or critically injured person's spleen may not be able to expulge all of those nasty pathogens. So, researchers from Harvard University's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering set out to find a solution to this sometimes-fatal problem called sepsis. 

What they came up with may seem kind of kooky, but the implications are enormous for the field of medicine. Their "Spleen-on-a-chip" is basically a second blood filtration system that acts as a supplement to the real thing.

So the patient's blood is cycled through the, uh, Spleen-on-a-chip, and magnetic nanobeads are mixed in along with genetically engineered protein found in human blood that sticks to all that toxic gunk that builds up in the body. Then, the blood is filtered back through the machine and the nanobeads are extracted, thereby removing the bad stuff and returning the cleaned blood back to the individual.

Just imagine what this technology could mean for combat soldiers, or really, anyone highly susceptible to bloodstream infections.

Harvard's Wyss Institute, via Gizmag

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