Innovative new treatment of sepsis by apheresis

Challenge Sepsis is the number one cause of hospital deaths in Western countries. It is the single most expensive hospital condition in the US, representing 6% of total costs and 4% of hospital stays. The number of people that die from sepsis is increasing at an average of 8% per year. Mortality rate lies between 20-30%. Furthermore, antibiotic resistance is increasing, complicating sepsis treatment.

Opportunity Antibiotic treatment and administering intravenous fluids are standard in treating sepsis. However, this is often ineffective, leading to high mortality rates and permanent disability. There is a great demand and huge opportunity for therapies that can complement current treatment plans and result in better outcomes for patients.


Solution Bloodborne pathogens that may cause sepsis are predominantly bound to red blood cells (RBCs). Sanquin, one of the leading blood banks and plasma providers in Europe, has developed an innovative patented method to remove these RBC bound pathogens from the blood using a special filter combined with apheresis. This results in the reduction of the pathogen load in blood of sepsis patients.

Evidence suggests this filter works for a broad spectrum of complement opsonized pathogens which can give rise to sepsis. The technology can be easily incorporated in existing apheresis units and is based on filter material that can be produced at low cost. Furthermore, filtering these RBC/pathogen complexes from a patient’s blood could be used for diagnosing imminent sepsis at an early stage.

Status The technology has been demonstrated in vitro and will soon be validated in clinical trials.