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NEWS
Method of Removing Bacterial Toxins From Fluids Patented
August 8, 2018

By some estimates, 18 million people die each year from sepsis triggered by endotoxins – fragments of the outer membranes of bacteria. A biochemical engineer at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) has patented a method of removing these harmful elements from water and also from pharmaceutical formulations.

Her goal: improve drug safety and increase access to clean drinking water in the developing world.

“Initially, we were using these polymers to coat anti-cancer drugs,” says Dr. Sutapa Barua, assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering at Missouri S&T. “That was my focus. So I knew these polymers work, that they were bio-compatible.”

The technique, as outlined in a recent article in the journal Nanotechnology, involves a one-step phase separation method, using a syringe pump, to synthesize the nanoparticles.

Those polymer nanoparticles have a high endotoxin removal efficiency of nearly 1 million endotoxin units per milliliter of water, using only a few micrograms of the material.

After synthesis, the particles were characterized using a transmission electron microscope and dynamic light scattering. A custom-made fluorescence assay was used to determine the degree of binding between the endotoxins, which are also known lipopolysaccharides, and the nanoparticles. The fluorescent compound BODIPY was used to tag the endotoxin for identification purposes.

The ramifications of this method — referred to in the 2016 journal article as “endotoxin hitchhiking” — could be substantial.

The study “has large implications for the healthcare system, especially for those patients suffering from sepsis,” the journal editors wrote. “This novel removal technique has the potential to be explored for the removal of other deadly toxins that can be found in the bloodstream from a number of different diseases.”

According to information, the study further results in an “efficacious system that is applicable to minimize the endotoxin level for a variety of applications, including drinking water purification, drug formulation or pharmaceutical preparation.”


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