USING MAGNETS TO HEAL?
Using Magnets to Cure Infection
Tiny magnets in the bloodstream can literally pull dangerous pathogens out of the body. It’s an idea that may save millions of lives.
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
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Ten percent of wounds on the battlefield lead to a potentially fatal condition called sepsis. Sepsis is dangerous even in a controlled environment like a hospital. In the chaos of a battlefield, it becomes a major killer.
Sepsis happens when the body's immune system overreacts, damaging healthy tissues while trying to battle the infection.
The problem in treating sepsis is there's usually no time to figure out which bacteria are causing the infection. The risk of death goes up 8 percent every hour. With the clock ticking, doctors start giving antibiotics and hope they get the right one.
The Wyss Institute is famous for taking on tough problems like this one. They base their research on the idea that nature probably has the answer already. Chances are, any problem you're trying to solve has already been solved in nature. You just need to know where to look.
To figure out how to cure sepsis, Mike Super, PhD, a senior scientist at the Wyss Institute, looked at the spleen.
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"In the spleen, there are cells which remove pathogens from the blood," he said. But how do you take that natural "technology" and make it work to cure sepsis? The answer they came up with — magnets.
"We said we want to take the same kinds of proteins that are on those cells which bind to these pathogens," Super said. "And we want to put them on a magnetic bead so we can actually use magnetic forces to pull these pathogens out of the blood."
The tiny magnetic beads they created worked even better than they expected in pulling pathogens out of the blood, but they faced another problem – clotting.
To make the magnetic beads work, patients had to be given an anti-coagulant. But this was a treatment that would ultimately be used on wounded soldiers.
"If you add an anticoagulant in order to run the device and the soldier already has a wound, he could potentially bleed out," Super said.
Once again, the solution came from nature. Super was watching a presentation about how to prevent ice from forming on airplane wings, which is similar to the way clots form in the blood.
So Super tried the same fix: "You infuse a lubricating film. We applied that to the blood, and we found that this fresh blood strayed out of a vein. No anticoagulant. It slipped right off the surface, which is very encouraging because it did not clot."
Super said this new technology could save at least 20 percent of patients who now die from sepsis, and it could have benefits beyond the battlefield, "Down the road, we're also developing this for humanitarian uses in the developing world, where we would be able to diagnose an infection in somebody who doesn't have access to many antibiotics or to much clinical care."
Video: Treatment of Throat Infection by acupressure, seed and magnet therapy
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