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Bad blood

Whereas pharmacological approaches to treating sepsis have languished in the clinic, a mechanical approach has been designed by a Massachusetts team that cleanses pathogens and endotoxins from blood.1 The microfluidic devicecould be a natural fit in intensive care units in which patients with severe sepsis are already being treated.

The teamplans to raise funds and launch a new company to commercialize the approach.

Eighteen million cases of sepsis are diagnosedworldwide every year, with a 30%-50% mortality rate even within hospital intensive care units.2 No therapeutics are approved to treat sepsis, and numerous programs have failed in the clinic in part because of the complex etiology of the disease.

Standard of care includes treatment with i.v. fluids and broad-spectrum antibiotics. Supportive care for patients with severe sepsis and septic shock includes administration of fluids, anti-thrombosis therapy, hemofiltration of inflammatory mediators and mechanical organ support.

Although patients with sepsis are often treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, residual live as well as dead pathogens release toxins into the bloodstream, contributing to disease severity and mortality.3

Harvard Universityfounding director Donald Ingber thus set out to develop a device that could physicallyremove both living and dead microorganisms and endotoxins from the blood, with the goal of reducing the host immune response that drives the disease.


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