An “artificial spleen” that may help cure sepsis

One of the toughest parts of becoming older is that the immune system begins to work less well, leaving seniors vulnerable to more kinds of infections, which may also take longer to heal. At worst, these infections can lead to sepsis, which is “most common and most dangerous in older adults,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Some possible help may be on the horizon in several years in the form of an “artificial spleen.”

Created by researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, the artificial spleen works in a way similar to dialysis: Infected blood is run through a machine, cleansed, and then re-circulated into a patient.

Bad stuff (in color). Good beads (in white), pulled into the “spleen.” Courtesy: Harvard's Wyss Institute

Bad stuff (in color). Good beads (in white), pulled into the “spleen.” Courtesy: Harvard’s Wyss Institute

While this may seem like technological overkill compared to simply swallowing an antibiotic, the challenge with sepsis is that it is extremely difficult to correctly diagnosis the underlying pathogens, which can all too quickly lead to fatal consequences. Continue Reading