Use magnets to clean your blood

March 27th, 2009 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 27 (IANS) You can now use tiny magnets to clean your blood of pathogens, thus freeing yourself from the kind of septic infection that kills more than 200,000 people annually in the US, especially premature newborns and those with weakened immune systems.
As existing treatments are ineffective, researchers at the Vascular Biology Programme at Children’s Hospital Boston have hit upon magnets to free blood of pathogens.

The device, developed by Chong Wing Yung, at Don Ingber’s lab, freed contaminated blood of over 80 percent of fungi in a single pass, in an application viable for clinical applications.

At first, the patient’s blood is drawn and tiny magnetic beads, coated with antibodies against specific pathogens (such as the fungus Candida albicans) are added to it.

The blood is then run through a system in which two liquid flows run side by side without mixing — one containing blood, the other a saline-based collection fluid.

The beads bind to the pathogens, and a magnet then pulls them (along with the pathogens) into the collection fluid, which is ultimately discarded, while the cleansed blood is reintroduced into the patient.

Yung and Ingber estimate that a scaled-up system with hundreds of channels could cleanse the blood of an infant within several hours, said a statement from the hospital.

“This blood-cleansing microdevice offers a potentially new weapon to fight pathogens in septic infants and adults, that works simply by removing the source of the infection and thereby enhancing the patient’s response to existing antibiotics,” said Ingber.

The findings are slated for publication online in Lab on a Chip.

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