Engineers at the University of California have developed a “nanosponge” that can safely remove a variety of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream. Unlike other antitoxin platforms, this technology is not limited to a single type of threat. These nanoscale sponges can “soak up” MRSA, E. coli and other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as well as venom from snakes and bees. Studies performed on mice show that 89% of the test subjects inoculated with the sponges survived a lethal dose of MRSA. Those injected after exposure to a lethal dose still had a high survival rate of 44% .
The nanosponges are made of a biocompatible polymer core. In order to evade the immune system and remain in circulation in the bloodstream, the sponges are wrapped in red blood cell membranes. A single red blood cell membrane can generate thousands of nanosponges. The nanosponges work by outnumbering red blood cells, serving as “decoys” for the bacteria and toxins.