Researchers at Oregon State University have engineered a special filter that may be capable of clearing blood of endotoxins that play important role in sepsis. The National Science Foundation just awarded $200,000 to the team to further develop the device for clinical use.
Unlike antibiotics, the filter actually removes bacteria and endotoxins instead of just killing the bacteria and leaving particulates and vasoactive substances to circulate in the body. It’s about the size of a mug and has a bunch of microchannels about the diameter of human hair that are coated on the inside with so-called “pendant polymer brushes.” These are chains of carbon and oxygen that are attached to the filter like microscopic hairs that prevent coagulation and have peptides on their tips to grab onto the endotoxins. The researchers plan to make the device cheap to manufacture by moving to low-cost polymers as the main material, and then pressing toward clinical trials that may finally bring this technology to hospitals struggling with controlling sepsis.