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Scientists aim to treat septic shock with new, meshy dialysis device

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Sepsis is a mysterious condition. It's the body's life-threatening response to an infection and it's usually tied to a weakened immune system, but it can be triggered by just a cut or routine surgery. Each year in the United States, Sepsis affects more than 1 million people and kills up to half, according to the National Institutes of Health. There's no treatment for Sepsis or septic shock, the deadly full-body inflammatory response, but scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute are working on a new dialysis system that cleans the blood of poisonous pathogens, Reuters reports.

The new system sends a patient's blood through a tube of mesh fibers coated in an engineered protein, fcMBL. This protein binds to the sugars along the walls of pathogens, trapping them and leaving clean blood behind. Senior Staff Scientists Mike Super describes the procedure to Reuters:

"We are coating the inside of the tubes with that protein and we are running the infected blood from the patient through that, through the filter and binding, absorbing, capturing the pathogens that are in that blood so that the blood that is going back to the patient is cleansed," he says.

In a trial phase using rats as patients, the new dialysis treatment was more than 99 percent effective in removing bacteria from the blood, the site reports. Super and his team are conducting trials on large animals now, and they hope to start human trials soon.

[Image Credit: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images]

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