'Artificial Spleen' Cleans The Blood
In the 2013 sci-fi thriller Elysium, the filmmakers imagined a futuristic body scanner that can quickly identify and treat almost any disease. In his 1970 story Ringworld, Larry Niven visualized the autodoc that could treat almost any disease.
('Artificial Spleen' video)
Now, scientists from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering in Boston have developed an artificial spleen that has been shown to rapidly remove bacteria and viruses from blood. The technology could be useful in many scenarios, including protecting people who suffer from immunodeficiencies and those infected with difficult to treat pathogens like Ebola virus. It also has great potential to reduce the incidence of sepsis, a leading cause of death that results from an infection that the immune system tries but fails to control effectively.
While this device has potential to be a major advance in treating infections, the way it works is relatively straightforward. In most animals, a protein called mannose-binding lectin (MBL) binds to mannose, a type of sugar. Mannose is found on the outer surface of many pathogens, including bacteria, fungi and viruses. It is even found on some toxins that are produced by bacteria and contribute to illness.
Dr. Ingber’s team took a modified version of MBL and coated magnetic nanobeads with it. As the infected blood filters through the device, the MBL from the nanobeads binds to most pathogens or toxins that are around. As the blood then moves out of the device, a magnet grabs the magnetic nanobeads that have attached to the pathogens and removes them from the blood.
The blood can then be put right back into the patient, much cleaner than before.
I'd also reference the artif-orgs from Philip K. Dick's 1964 novel Cantata 140:
George Walt's corporate existence proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...
Via Singularity Hub.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/12/2014)
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