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Medicine Science

New Blood-Cleansing Device Removes Pathogens, Toxins From Blood 60

jan_jes writes: A team of scientists at the Wyss Institute last year described the development of a device to treat sepsis that works by mimicking the human spleen. The device cleanses pathogens and toxins from blood flowing through a dialysis-like circuit. Now the team has developed an improved device that works with conventional antibiotic therapies and is better positioned for near-term use in clinics. The improved design will be described in the October issue of Biomaterials. This approach can be administered quickly, even without identifying the infectious agent.
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New Blood-Cleansing Device Removes Pathogens, Toxins From Blood

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  • Finally, a proper cure for hangovers!
    • by Adriax ( 746043 )

      If it's cheap enough I can see a wave of hangover clinics opening in college towns across the country. Shoudln't need more than a single on site doctor and some nurses to staff it.
      Offer a monday morning special. Filter out the bad stuff and infuse some caffeine at the same time. A saline bag with 300mg of caffeine is probably about as expensive as a cup of starbucks anyway.

    • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:48AM (#50361753)
      Being one that watched a family member slowly die from septic shock despite doctors fighting to do whatever they could, I can say that this is quite a big deal. Just like the article said, all the doctors could do was administer different antibiotics and hope. This might have made a big difference.
      • Sorry for your loss, that's unimaginable for many of us who've never faced that kind of helplessness. It would be amazing if this solution could spare families of the future from such tragedies. How great to know that at some date ahead, we can announce that a specific patient was the last such loss to occur.
        • How great to know that at some date ahead, we can announce that a specific patient was the last such loss to occur.

          How are you going to know that? I have a patient here, with septic shock. My patient dies. I announce the patient was the last who will ever die of septic shock. What is there to prevent another patient from dieing of septic shock the next day in Ulan Bataar?

          If it were a recordable disease (like TB, some STIs, typhoid, and not many others I can think of off the top of my head), then you might

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Not to mention bullet wounds.

    • Suck on some oxygen from a tank and it'll go away.

    • yeah and those pesky pre employment tests!
  • I know for a while it's been thought that one of the main causes of aging (and hence death from aging) may be the bodies tendency to build up waste products over time. This technology sounds like it may be a first step to a potentially huge breakthrough in human longevity research... if much of aging really is about waste build up, the ability to clean that waste out by various means could mean that we start breaking the known barriers on human lifespans. It's going to be interesting over the course of th
    • Wrong kind of cleaning. The kidney takes care of most of that stuff. Spleen is more about the immune system clean up.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Most of this bad crap sits in your fatty tissue. Have you seen what happens to fat person when they attempt fasting? It's ugly! They have to be really careful because the amount of toxins that gets released while fasting can get dangerously high.

    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @10:41AM (#50361701) Journal
      Most of what they mean by "waste" buildup in that context refers to intracellular debris, though, not the sort of wastes that circulate in the blood and eventually get excreted. Still very cool, though, because currently, sepsis has up to a 50% fatality rate - We literally have almost no ways to effectively treat it.
    • I suppose that possibly cleaning the blood could help reduce the body's auto-immune responses to whatever pathogens are present. Immune responses can damage things other than what they are intended for, including healthy cells.
    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      The biggest issue with aging is the stem cells in your body slowly dying out. Telomeres are the main suspect here, along with mutations in DNA during division.
    • by cjjjer ( 530715 )
      Great just what we need people living longer...
      • Hey, if you value keeping the average human lifespan down feel free to do your part with your own!

    • There was a science fiction story I read once (I've since forgotten the title) where the main character was being pursued because he seemed to have found a way to reverse aging. He didn't know what the secret was, though, and had to figure it out while evading his pursuers. The secret wound up being a "teleporter" that just removed all the "built up junk" in his cells. Once said junk was teleported out, the body began to act as though it were younger.

      • I know the story, actually a very good one. But don't have the title in my mind or the book at hand, will check later at home.

        There where two types of immortality. One was the teleportation thing the other one was a "gene therapy" done to kids who where then stuck in 12 - 14 year old bodies.

        • The second one sounds vaguely reminiscent of one of the Singularity Sky books. The title escapes me but it was the one that centred on Sky Haussmann.
        • by MrHops ( 712514 )

          I know the story, actually a very good one. But don't have the title in my mind or the book at hand, will check later at home.

          There where two types of immortality. One was the teleportation thing the other one was a "gene therapy" done to kids who where then stuck in 12 - 14 year old bodies.

          I'm pretty sure you're talking about the Ringworld series, especially the later books.

          • No, has nothing to do with the ring world.

            It is a single astronaut who comes back to earth after a very long time and finds the earth basically freed from humans.

            All the big animals like Elephants are shrinked to the size of small horses, the planet is very hot. He finds depopulated empty high tech cities.

            There he finds the special "teleporter" that cleans him from defects and prolongues his life. This is called "Dicta Immortality" as only the former "Dictators" had that form and it is believed/implied the

      • by glitch! ( 57276 )

        Larry Niven: A World Out of Time

        A guy woke up from cryogenic sleep in a new body. Nope, it is not a Utopia; things are worse than every. But they need pilots for interstellar voyages and regular citizens don't want to go. He passes the tests and goes on a _long_ trip into the future.

  • According to the article, this device is supposed to use 'magnetic beads' to remove toxins; it is very light on actual detail, and judging on what is in the article, it sounds bogus to me. Magnetism works on magnetic materials - organic molecules like toxins are not likely to be magnetic, so how it that supposed to work? It reminds me of the bizarre superstition that claims that you can somehow clean or soften your household water with a magnet; that doesn't work either - if it was that simple, it would be

    • Re:Magnetic beads? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @11:16AM (#50361965)

      The details are all in the article. The first version of their machine used magnetic beads coated with an engineered protein that sticks to cellular debris. The beads were magnetic so they could easily dump them in a blood reservoir and then pull them out and clean them off. Their newer version runs the blood through hollow fibres coated with the same protein.

      • Re:Magnetic beads? (Score:4, Informative)

        by dinfinity ( 2300094 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @11:43AM (#50362197)

        cellular debris

        Just a minor correction, FTA:
        "This is because it uses the Wyss Institute’s proprietary, pathogen-capturing agent, FcMBL, which binds all types of live and dead infectious microbes, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and the toxins they release. FcMBL is a genetically engineered blood protein inspired by a naturally occurring human molecule called mannose-binding lectin (MBL), which is found in the innate immune system and binds to toxic invaders, marking them for capture by immune cells in the spleen." (my emphasis)

        • So this is just an improvement of the innate immune system: something that can spare odd stuff but is unable to learn about new threats?

          They could coat their beads with engineered antibodies to improve further. Is there anything that prevents that?

          • I found the following description of the exact mechanism of sepsis very informative:

            The most interesting bits:
            "When working properly, the innate immune mechanisms are rapidly mobilized in the region of a new infection. At the height of the response, invading microbes are overwhelmed, deactivated, and destroyed. Next, local debris is removed; the pro-inflammatory molecules, the activated complement, and the activated clotting factors are neutralized; and the production of new

    • Read about "para" and "dia" magnetism.

      Every material is magnetic when the field is strong enough ... you should have learned that in school

      can somehow clean or soften your household water with a magnet
      Facepalm, ofc you can. All stuff in the water is dissolved as ions, which are poor victims of the lorenz force if they travel through a magnetic field. So, yes, you can clean water with magnets, it is just not economical feasible. This too you shuld have learned in school.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        An in particular, the usual "wonder" devices wrap some coils around a rather thick-walled pipe for zero magnetic effect in the water.

        • I did not say that the wonder devices work.

          I said that all stuff in the water is dissolved and hence consists of ions, charged particles, and hence they can be influenced with magnetic fields.

          If you really would want to clean water that way, it would work, but a machine would be complicated and use lots of energy.

          • by gweihir ( 88907 )

            I did understand you. In particular I did understand "not economical feasible". I was just amplifying on that.

  • I know many people with severe problems that need dialysis can't make it through a treatment. Will this help with that?

    Its still amazing what they have done and if it works it will save a lot of lives but TFA did not mention the stress to the patient.

  • by Stele ( 9443 ) on Friday August 21, 2015 @11:46AM (#50362231) Homepage

    How well does this blood cleansing device work on carpet? Say, an area of about 10'x12'? Just asking out of curiosity.

  • There's a lot of things that can go wrong with this. One, it simply may not work - they haven't done large animal testing on it yet. It also may hemolyze the RBC's as they pass through - adding to the stress of septic shock which is inability to perfuse the organs. I hope it's a breakthrough, but having been doing research for clinically treating septic shock for the past 3 years - I'm doubtful.
  • You know you save a few million lives here and a few million lives there and before you know it you've saved an awful lot of lives.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if this might work with pathogens such as snake bites and spider bites.

  • by kendor ( 525262 ) <> on Friday August 21, 2015 @12:56PM (#50362939)
    Cytosorbents (CTSO: []) and Aethlon Medical (AEMD: []), both publicly traded corporations, have built something similar,: an extracorporeal filter that fits into the standard dialysis machine you can find in any hospital. By filtering out "cytokines", which are produced during inflammatory processes, they hope to increase survivability by halting "cytokine storm," which is kind of a runaway feedback-loop which leads to organ failure, septic shock, and death. If it is proved to increase patient survivability, this technology is huge: sepsis is a leading cause of expense and mortality in the United States. If it works as is hoped, there are many lives that could be saved and trainloads of money to be made. This PDF from the company makes the investment case: []

    Both companies are attempting to commercialize their technologies and gain approvals in various countries. Cytosorbents has been steadily gaining approvals in the EU and other places worldwide. CTSO hopes to initially crack the US market through a trial using their filter as a part of cardiac surgery. AEMD is pursuing an FDA trial with their filter.

    The two-hundred-billion-dollar question is whether their devices will broadly improve patient outcomes: they obviously filter out bad stuff from blood, but the real question is whether that is broadly effective in critical care situations.

    I'm not a shill for either company, but I have significant investment gains in both. I'm constantly trying to assess how defensible each company's patent portfolio is, and whether the tech will improve general patent outcomes as much is suggested by a number of preliminary studies. I'd be interested in hearing other informed perspectives, especially from people doing research in this area.
    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      They did related things (and probably very useful) but it's not the same. TFA is about a filter that removes the actual pathogens from the blood.

  • For a while I've been imagining a device like this, if it could be properly targeted, would be able to remove specific antibodies from the blood stream, and effectively remove unwanted allergies while leaving the properly-functioning part of the immune system intact.

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