The Ingber Lab at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston has developed a magnetic blood filtering system to get rid of microbes from blood in situ. This system works by adding plastic-coated iron-oxide beads that are coated with antibodies for a specific pathogen. The beads will then strongly adhere to the pathogen in the blood and when passed through an electromagnet, the bead-pathogen complex can be separated from the rest of the blood. The end goal is to minimize the pathogen concentration to a level where drugs can be more effective at eliminating the remaining pathogen in the blood and reduce the mortality associated with sepsis.
In initial testing, the Ingber lab combined Candida albicans with blood and the antibody coated iron beads. The solution was then filtered through their system, a dialysis like device with electromagnets and up to 80 percent of the bead-pathogen complex were removed.
This chart shows (a) the multi-fluorescence labeling of magnetic beads coated with antibodies for Candida albicans and (b) the effectiveness of the filtration of the bead-pathogen complex.
These types of microfluidic filter systems have the advantage of selective separation of the pathogen complexes from the flowing blood without the need for a filter membrane which can restrict flow and induce clotting while providing a large surface area to increase the efficiency of the entire prcoess. Dr. Don Ingber MD PhD, lab director, reports that animal testing is to commence this fall.
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Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital : The Ingber Lab
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(hat tip: Gizmodo)