"We hope to emboss the device out of low-cost polymers, so it should be inexpensive enough that it can be used once and then discarded," Schilke said. "The low cost would also allow treatment even before sepsis is apparent. Anytime there's a concern about sepsis developing due to an injury, a wound, an operation, or an infection you could get ahead of the problem."
"A big part of the problem with sepsis is that it moves so rapidly," said Joe McGuire, professor and head of the OSU Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. "By the time it's apparent what the problem is, it's often too late to treat it.
"If given early enough, antibiotics and other treatments can sometimes, but not always, stop this process," McGuire said. "Once these bacterial fragments are in the blood stream the antibiotics won't always work. You can have successfully eradicated the living bacteria even as you're dying."
The approach being developed at the OSU College of Engineering is to move blood through a very small processor, about the size of a coffee mug, and literally grab the endotoxins and remove them.
Microchannels make this possible. They can provide accelerated heat and mass transfer as fluids move through tiny tubes the width of a human hair. Applications are already being studied in everything from heat exchangers to solar energy. They can be produced in mass quantity at low cost, stamped onto a range of metals or plastics, and used to process a large volume of liquid in a comparatively short time.
In the system developed at Oregon State, blood can be pumped through thousands of microchannels that are coated with what researchers call "pendant polymer brushes," with repea
|Contact: Adam Higgins|
Oregon State University