Engineers invent ‘nanosponge’ removing blood toxins

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have created a “nanosponge” that can remove dangerous toxins, including those produced by drug resistant staphylococcus, E. coli, venomous snakes and bees, from the bloodstream, the US news website "Science Daily" reported Sunday.

The findings were published by the nano-engineer team involved in the effort in "Nature Nanotechnology," a monthly scientific journal.

The nanosponges have thus far been studied in mice. They are capable of absorbing different “pore-forming toxins,” which destroy cells by poking holes in their cell membranes, regardless of their molecular structures.

“This is a new way to remove toxins from the bloodstream,” said Liangfang Zhang, a nanoengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the senior author on the study.

“Instead of creating specific treatments for individual toxins, we are developing a platform that can neutralize toxins caused by a wide range of pathogens, including MRSA [methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus] and other antibiotic resistant bacteria,” Zhang said.

MRSA is a bacterium blamed for a few hard-to-treat infections in humans, including sepsis. For the nanosponges not to be destroyed by the immune system, they are wrapped in red blood cell membranes. The technology was developed in Zhang's lab at UC San Diego. Clinical trials should be the next step following successful tests on mice, the researchers said.

Philippines News agency