Magnets That Clean Blood And Cure Sepsis

A magnetic device has been invented to extract bacteria, fungi and other toxins from the blood, potentially curing sepsis, a life threatening complication of infection that kills 1 in 4 who are affected. It occurs when the chemicals that are supposed to attack an infection, instead trigger unwanted inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can cause a cascade of changes that damage organs, eventually leading to failure. 

The speed and appropriateness of therapy are what influence the outcome, so it's key that physicians identify the source of infection in time, so they can choose an appropriate antibiotic therapy. Something as trivial as a lab test delayed by 2 hours can be the reason for death.

How it works:

First, magnetic nanometer-sized beads are injected into the animal's blood stream. These beads are coated in the protein MBL, genetically engineered to bind to toxins in their blood stream. Next, the nanoparticle filled blood is pumped through a microfluidic device with two interconnected channels, one for flowing blood, the other for a saline solution. Then a magnetic field is applied. It pulls the beads out of the flowing blood into the saline filled channel, allowing the cleansed blood to flow back into the animal. Magic.  

Toraymyxin DeviceToraymyxin Device

Similar solutions have already been invented, such as the antibiotic-coated column, Toraymyxin, along with other dialysis- like devices, but these devices don't target pathogens.

Also, in theory, it doesn't matter what bacteria, fungi or toxins are present. It removes most of them, without unwanted side effects like depletion of platelets, white blood cells or other proteins. 

It's a long way from human trials, but their first target is the Ebola virus where the viral load is a major factor in the outcome. Then HIV. Inspiring stuff. 

The lead study author is Donald Ingber, a professor at Harvard Medical School and founding director of the Wyss Institute in Boston. Source The Scientist.