Novel Blood-cleansing Device Could Save Millions from Septic Shock


Sepsis, the leading cause of hospital deaths, kills at least eight million people globally each year.

A bloodstream infection, in which the body’s organs become inflamed and susceptible to failure, it can be caused by 6 species of fungi and 1400 species of bacteria. Diagnosis takes 2-5 days, and every hour you wait can increase the risk of death by 5-9%. The challenge grows with the rise in drug-resistant bacteria.

“Even with the best current treatments, sepsis patients are dying in intensive care units at least 30% of the time,” says Mike Super, Senior Staff Scientist at the

There is no therapy specifically approved to treat sepsis and the present standard of care is to provide patients with intravenous fluids and broad-spectrum antibiotics. Now a device from a team at Wyss may radically transform the way we treat sepsis.

“We are developing an entirely new approach … that directly and quickly eliminates the pathogens and toxins that trigger the sepsis cascade,” said Wyss Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.,

The blood-cleansing device can be utilized quickly, even without identifying the infectious agent. In animal studies, treatment reduced the number of targeted pathogens and toxins circulating in the bloodstream by more than 99%.

Don Ingber and Mike Super tell the story of its development in the latest episode of Disruptive, the monthly podcast I produce with the Wyss Institute.

The seeds of the sepsis device go back over twenty years, in separate work undertaken by the two of them on separate continents. But it has been only four years since they began to collaborate on it at Wyss, and as Super points out, “That is incredibly fast.”

Key to the technology is a genetically engineered protein based on a —> Read More