Device that uses a magnet to clean bad blood
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Paris: Scientists said on
Sunday they had invented a device that uses a magnet to extract bacteria, fungi
and toxins from blood, potentially throwing a lifeline to patients with sepsis
and other infections.
The external gadget - tested so far in rats but not yet humans - could be
adapted one day for stripping Ebola and other viruses from blood, they hoped.
Acting rather like a spleen, the invention uses magnetic nanobeads coated with a
genetically-engineered human blood protein called MBL.
The MBL binds to pathogens and toxins, which can then be "pulled out" with a
magnet, the developers wrote in the journal Nature Medicine.
The "bio-spleen" was developed to treat sepsis, or blood infection, which
affects 18 million people in the world every year, with a 30-50 per cent
The microbes that cause it are often resistant to antibiotics, and spread fast.
If the invention is shown to be safe for humans, "patients could be treated with
our bio-spleen and this will physically clean up their blood, rapidly removing a
wide spectrum of live pathogens as well as dead fragments and toxins from the
blood," study co-author Donald Ingber told AFP.
The cleansed blood is then returned to the circulatory system.
"This treatment could be carried out even before the pathogen has been formally
identified and the optimal antibiotic treatment has been chosen," said Ingber,
of Harvard University, Massachusetts.
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