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Nanosponges Soak up Toxins from Bacteria and Venom

April 16, 2013

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a “nanosponge” capable of safely removing a broad class of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream — including toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli, poisonous snakes and bees. These nanosponges, which thus far have been studied in mice, can neutralize “pore-forming toxins,” which destroy cells by poking holes in their cell membranes. Unlike other anti-toxin platforms that need to be custom synthesized for individual toxin type, the nanosponges can absorb different pore-forming toxins regardless of their molecular structures. In a study against alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA, pre-innoculation with nanosponges enabled 89 percent of mice to survive lethal doses. Administering nanosponges after the lethal dose led to 44 percent survival.

Credit: UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering



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