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Medicine Biotech Technology

Artificial Spleen Removes Ebola, HIV Viruses and Toxins From Blood Using Magnets 106

concertina226 writes Harvard scientists have invented a new artificial spleen that is able to clear toxins, fungi and deadly pathogens such as Ebola from human blood, which could potentially save millions of lives. When antibiotics are used to kill them, dying viruses release toxins in the blood that begin to multiply quickly, causing sepsis, a life-threatening condition whereby the immune system overreacts, causing blood clotting, organ damage and inflammation. To overcome this, researchers have invented a "biospleen", a device similar to a dialysis machine that makes use of magnetic nanobeads measuring 128 nanometres in diameter (one-five hundredths the width of a single human hair) coated with mannose-binding lectin (MBL), a type of genetically engineered human blood protein.
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Artificial Spleen Removes Ebola, HIV Viruses and Toxins From Blood Using Magnets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2014 @02:57PM (#47912105)

    ". When antibiotics are used to kill them, dying viruses release toxins in the blood that begin to multiply quickly" Viruses are killed by antibiotics and toxins can multiply?

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      I was wondering about the anti-biotics myself. It sure makes me suspicious about the rest of the info.

      • They call E. coli a virus later in the article...
      • Indeed, IB Times wins the record of the worst ever summary of microbiology subject.
        (mixing virus and bacteria and toxins. And multiplication and dead cells. W.. T.. F.. )

        (Also, the magnets have nothing to do with the removal. They are just the mecinal technique used to move the metal beads around. It's the manose-binding lecitin on them that hold the magic.
        It's not "removing Viruses and bacteria using magnets" but "removing them using lecitins which happen to be moved around thanks to magnets").

        The nature p [nature.com]

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          Okay, then whoever summarized it screwed it up. That makes me feel a lot better about the info then. Thanks for the clarification, if I had mod points I'd certainly +1 you.

    • Odd, but I wonder how well this will work against russian mycotoxins?

    • by durrr ( 1316311 )

      Journalism as its finest. It's like a blind person laying a puzzle.

    • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 )
      Yeah, I was about to say.....that sentence alone tells me the author doesn't have a clue what they're writing.
    • by SlowGenius ( 231663 ) on Monday September 15, 2014 @03:51PM (#47912631) Homepage
      Sooo many things wrong with this. For starters, viruses aren't even really alive, even though they interact with living things. So they don't really die, although it is possible to destroy them. For nexters, viruses don't have any ribosomes, so they can't possibly make (let alone release) toxins or anything else. Somebody doesn't have a f***ing clue what he/she is talking about. Magnets. Um, yeah, right.
      • In trying to make sense of it, I wonder if the author meant to say that when a virus infected cell dies it tends to release it's virus load, mashed together with the idea that with some bacterial diseases the bacteria don't release their toxins until death. As a result, you can have the problem that when you administer antibiotics you have a massive die-off of toxin harboring bacteria, which can even kill a weak enough patient from the sudden release. Or make people think that the antibiotics are making t

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Fascinating new insights, indeed! Unfortunately, all attempts at verifying these "insights" failed, except when complete morons were used as experimenters.

  • Poor source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 15, 2014 @03:00PM (#47912135)

    This summary is a butchered summary of a far more interesting article. Here is a far better source! http://www.nature.com/news/artificial-spleen-cleans-up-blood-1.15917 I'm quite surprised at IBT's lack of knowledge. Viruses killed by antibiotics? Toxins Multiplying?

    • by Megane ( 129182 )

      So tl;dr: Beads have a coating that attaches to bad stuff. Beads are also magnets and can be pulled out along with the bad stuff by a big magnet.

      If the beads themselves are magnets (rather than just being attracted by magnets), they can also attach to each other to clump up on bad stuff better. (This is implied by the microscopic photo.)

      I'm quite surprised at IBT's lack of knowledge.

      You must be new here.

    • This summary is a butchered summary of a far more interesting article. Here is a far better source! [Cause HTML has Anchor Tags] [nature.com] I'm quite surprised at IBT's lack of knowledge. Viruses killed by antibiotics? Toxins Multiplying?

      Wow I agree! Thanks for sharing this! This is much more interesting.. Maybe someone should write up a summary about the actual article....

    • Thanks for sharing this. It is a much better summary than what was posted here on /.

      Mod original poster to INTERESTING, please.

  • HOW DO THEY WORK??!!
  • ... F*cking Magnets! ....

  • Maybe next they could invent an artificial organ that would make me less angry.

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Monday September 15, 2014 @03:05PM (#47912199)
    "When antibiotics are used to kill them, dying viruses release toxins in the blood that begin to multiply quickly, causing sepsis, a life-threatening condition whereby the immune system overreacts, causing blood clotting, organ damage and inflammation."

    Toxin are released by bacteria not virus, and antibiotic do diddly squat against virus, they are used against bacteria. For example Staphylococcus (when not resistant...) is killed antibiotic, and Clostridium botulinum release a toxin which can be deadly (look up botulism). On the other hand HIV laugh at your antibiotic, as well as any rhinovirus or any virus. Vitrus hijack our cells reproduction system to instead generate more virus. I won't even go into the difference among viruses. That summary is extremly poorly written. Especially when the article summary mention bacteria. Also it could not have killed to mention this use magnetofection (associating amino acid or protein with a magnetic nanoparticle and afterward direct it to or from a place).
    • by Megane ( 129182 ) on Monday September 15, 2014 @03:21PM (#47912341) Homepage

      Toxin are released by bacteria not virus, and antibiotic do diddly squat against virus, they are used against bacteria.

      The original article [nature.com] gets this right. You were expecting a clickbait peddler like IBT to even copypasta it correctly?

      • Editorial responsibility one step above basic spelling, grammar, and sense* would have eliminated any submission citing IBTimes as source material. It's right up there with "Nothing submitted by Bennett Haselton" or "Nothing posted by Samzenpus**" or "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line."

        *Which is to say, two steps above what we have now

        **Except that I notice that Samzenpus seems to be the only editor on duty lately. What an odd coincidence.

    • Maybe there's a cytokine storm afoot? Occasionally they're worse than the infection.

    • I'm guessing the summary was written by one of those people who buy into so-called alternative medicine and use scary buzzwords like "toxins" very loosely to sell their products. They very rarely ever define what exactly these supposed toxins are and where they come from.

      I recall one person that told my mother to eat "living clay" to remove supposed toxins from her body, after some research I found that this living clay stuff is just calcium carbonate; the same thing as chewable Tums. I recall another one I

  • The data in the paper is related to bacteria, not viruses. Antibiotics work against bacteria, not viruses. someone needs to try to repeat the experiment and confirm the results. The paper reads more like a patent application than a scientific publication.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday September 15, 2014 @03:11PM (#47912261) Journal
    I'm fairly out of my depth with this stuff, so this is an honest inquiry: how do the magnetic nanoparticles fit into the equation?

    I realize that, once coated with a suitably tailored binding protein, the particles will collect whatever target the binding protein was specified for (presumably this could even be tailored, for any target where a suitably tame binding compound is available), and probably fairly efficiently because of the absurd surface area of nanoparticles.

    What I don't understand is the necessity of using the nanoparticles. It was my understanding that, outside of seriously immunocompromised victims, T-cells(and possibly other flavors of phagocytes, I'm fuzzy on the details) are extremely adept at engulfing and destroying foreign bodies, including 'clumps' produced by targets bound to the antigens produced by B-cells. This technique appears to be using a synthetic/introduced antigen(which makes sense if the immune system isn't producing the necessary antigen, or not ramping up production fast enough); but it also introduces the nanoparticles so that the antigen clumps can be magnetically scrubbed from the bloodstream, rather than cleaned up by the T Cells.

    What is the peculiarity here that would make introducing the novel clump-scrubbing mechanism necessary and worthwhile?
    • Because your immune system is likely to kill you when it kicks into hyperdrive to clear the pathogens from your system:

      The presence of microbial pathogens in the bloodstream triggers systemic inflammation and can lead to sepsis, which often overcomes the most powerful antibiotic therapies and causes multiorgan systems failure, septic shock and death. Sepsis afflicts 18 million people worldwide every year, with a 30-50% mortality rate even in state-of-the-art hospital intensive care units, and its incidence

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ZincFinger ( 982714 )
      Magnetic beads have been used for decades to extract DNA from samples like Blood for instance. In that case we also use polarity: as DNA it negatively charged, it will bind to positively charged (/coated) bead allowing us to bind and wash the DNA then we can release the beads using low salts when the time for elution comes. An alternative to magnetic beads is membrane based purification but that involves a vacuum source and some form of contraption to force the 'liquid' though the membrane. In this case the
  • Just a couple of more organs and I'll have a functioning human setup attached to the fridge door.

  • Could someone who works in that field explain how this would is different from the filters that CytoSorbents has been developing for a while now? (See: http://www.cytosorbents.com/te... [cytosorbents.com] ). These are already on the market.

    It looks to me like their technology is very different (and quite cool: nanobeads? magnetic? proteins?). One issue with the CytoSorbents product is that efficacy has only been proven in terms of reducing cytokines and preventing "cytokine storm", but not in terms of lowering actual mor

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Near as I can tell:
      The product you link to is a extracorporeal cytokine adsorber.

      With this product in the /. article, there is no excess cytokine to absorb.

  • I went to a rejuvenation clinic and got a whole natural overhaul. They took out some wrinkles, did hair repair, changed the blood, added a good 30 to 40 years to my life. They also replaced my spleen and colon. What do you think?

    I wonder with these types of artificial filters would there be any benefit for an otherwise healthy person to have this done?

  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Monday September 15, 2014 @03:28PM (#47912427) Homepage

    http://www.nature.com/news/artificial-spleen-cleans-up-blood-1.15917 [nature.com]

    Key points:

    * The coating on the nanobeads binds to many different things, so it's useful even if you don't know in advance what is making the patient sick.

    The device uses a modified version of mannose-binding lectin (MBL), a protein found in humans that binds to sugar molecules on the surfaces of more than 90 different bacteria, viruses and fungi, as well as to the toxins released by dead bacteria that trigger the immune overreaction in sepsis.

    * The device can process about 1 litre of blood per hour; compare with about 5 litre blood volume for a typical human, thus this should be able to completely process a person's blood about once every 5 hours. If a faster rate is needed, multiple devices could be used in parallel.

    * This has been successfully tested on rats. They infected rats with bacteria and 89% of the rats treated with the "artificial spleen" survived, while only 14% of the control group survived.

    * This could move to human clinical trials relatively soon.

    Nigel Klein, an infection and immunity expert at University College London, says that the biospleen could also allow diagnosticians to collect samples of a pathogen from the blood and then culture it to identify it and determine what drugs will best treat it. As blood transfusion and filtration are already common practices, he expects that the biospleen could move into human clinical trials within a couple of years.

    Read the whole article. It's not long and all of it is interesting.

  • When people read the summary of this story, I'm sure a lot will be like "blah blah blah blah MAGNETS GOOD FOR HEALTH AND CURE EBOLA blah blah blah.

  • ... , dying viruses release toxins ..." that quickly act on /. editors and make them forget the most basic biological facts.

  • But wait, you mean two days straight of grapefruit juice and acai chocolate doesn't work?

  • "When antibiotics are used to kill them, dying viruses release toxins"

    Too bad SlashDot isn't a science web site...

    (Antibiotics aren't used for viruses.)

    • "When antibiotics are used to kill them, dying viruses release toxins"

      Too bad SlashDot isn't a science web site...

      Neither is the International Business Times, whence this article refers.

      The web site for Nature magazine, however, is a science web site, and there's a much better story there on the same topic [nature.com].

  • by daniel23 ( 605413 ) on Monday September 15, 2014 @07:03PM (#47913885)

    antibiotics kill viruses which when dying release toxins? There are so many fundamental errors in this summary, I cannot believe the author of it has any competence to tell rubbish from wisdom.

  • by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) * on Monday September 15, 2014 @08:54PM (#47914389) Journal

    http://alexchiu.com/index.htm [alexchiu.com]

    Jeez guys, our good friend Alex Chiu has been selling fine magnetic immortality devices as long as I can remember on the internet and now some "harvard scientist" thinks they can get in on poor Alex's action here? What gives!?
     

  • Harvard scientists have invented a new artificial spleen that is able to clear toxins, fungi and deadly pathogens such as Ebola from human blood

    The what? I would have expected that to be all over the news, if it was actually something as momentuous as it is presented. Looking at the fact that this has been accepted in Nature after peer review would suggest that it isn't complete nonsense, however, and the abstract makes sense in a way. I suspect this is about coating very small, magnetic particles with antibodies; these will likely be specific to the pathogen, but the strategy is to let the antibodies bind to pathogens and then use magnets to ectra

  • Can somebody explain to me where the problem is with this approach? Namely, if there is a protein which

    a) binds to all the possible pathogens harmful to humans;
    b) can be reliably attached to a magnetic particle;
    c) never binds to useful things in the blood (e.g. erythrocytes)

    is it not magically amazing? Where's the catch?

  • Ooops! Wrong website.

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