“Biospleen” Acts Like Dialysis To Remove Pathogens From Bloodstream

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
MichDr. Michael Super, Ph.D.ael Super M.Sc., PhD
Senior Staff Scientist
Advanced Technology Team
Wyss Institute at Harvard
Center for Life Science, 2nd Floor
Boston MA 02115

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? How big a problem is sepsis?
Dr. Super:

  • Sepsis is a major problem and is the primary cause of death from infection. The incidence of sepsis is rising.
  • Sepsis affects more than 18 M people each year and at least 1/3 ( 6 million) die every year of sepsis.
  • Sepsis is a disease that affects the very young and old and it is estimated that 60-80% of childhood deaths in the developing world are due to sepsis.

Medical Research: How does the ‘biospleen’ cleanse the blood of pathogens?

Dr. Super: The patient’s blood is passed through tubing and an external device and back to another vein in their body, much like in dialysis.  Once the blood has been removed from the body, Nanometer-sized magnetic beads coated with a genetically engineered version of a natural blood protein, called MBL (Mannose Binding Lectin) that is part of the innate (primitive) immune system are injected into the blood. The MBL binds to sugars on the surface of the microbes and on toxins they release that are present in the blood.  The magnetic beads and bound microbes and toxin are then removed by magnets in the device, outside the body,  and the cleansed blood is returned to the patient.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Super: This is a technology that can bind many types (>90) of different live and dead pathogen cells as well as toxins released by these cells.  Thus, this technology can be used to treat patients with systemic microbial infection without having to first identify the type of pathogen.  The technology also works equally well with antibiotic-resistant pathogens, and it can be used in combination with current therapies, such as antibiotics and fluid therapy.

Medical Research: What further research is required before the system is ready for human clinical evaluation?

Dr. Super: We need to validate the ability of this technology to work equally well in large animal trials of the therapy.


An extracorporeal blood-cleansing device for sepsis therapy
Joo H Kang, Michael Super, Chong Wing Yung, Ryan M Cooper,Karel Domansky  et al.
Nature Medicine doi:10.1038/nm.3640 14 September 2014