Bioprinting a 3-D liver-like device to detoxify the blood
Nanoengineering professor Shaochen Chen led a team of nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego, in developing a 3-D-printed device inspired by the liver to remove dangerous toxins from the blood. The device, which is designed to be used outside the body--much like dialysis, uses nanoparticles to trap pore-forming toxins that can damage cellular membranes and are a key factor in illnesses that result from animal bites and stings, and bacterial infections.
While nanoparticles have been shown to be effective at neutralizing pore-forming toxins in the blood, if those nanoparticles cannot be effectively digested they can accumulate in the liver, creating a risk of secondary poisoning, particularly in patients already at risk of liver failure. So Chen and his team created a 3-D-printed hydrogel matrix to house nanoparticles, thereby forming a device that mimics the function of the liver by sensing, attracting and capturing toxins routed from the blood. The device, which is in the proof-of-concept stage, mimics the structure of the liver but has a larger surface area designed to efficiently attract and trap toxins within the device. In an in vitro study, the device completely neutralized pore-forming toxins.
The research was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation (CMMI 11-20795).
To learn more, see the UC-San Diego news story Bioprinting a 3-D liver-like device to detoxify the blood. (Date of Image: May 2014)
Credit: University of California, San Diego, Jacobs School of Engineering
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