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02 September 2010
By Mumbai Mirror Bureau
Scientists have devised a new way to eliminate poisons from the blood stream using nano magnets. If successfully applied to humans, it could be a more effective alternative to kidney dialysis
The specially created nano magnets are just 30 nanometres (a 30 millionth of a millimetre) in diametre, and less than a gram of them is enough to clear the blood of the entire human body of a specific toxin within a few hours. At least this is what has been demonstrated in the first in-vitro trials with human blood.
Target Specific Magnets
In her doctoral thesis Inge Herrmann from the Institute of Chemistry and Bioengineering Sciences at ETH Zurich has equipped the minute magnets in such a way that they can bind with disease-causing substances in the blood.
The scientists tested the properties of their magnets with human blood. Since blood has a high viscosity, they mixed relatively strong magnets by gently swinging it. In less than five minutes the magnets had almost completely bonded themselves to the toxin.
"The speed with which the molecules bond to the magnets depends on their binding constant", says Herrmann.
"The higher the constants, the faster the antibody of the magnet, for example, binds to the antigen".
Using magnets has a great advantage where contaminants of different sizes and weights can be removed from the blood selectively, whilst vital substances of a similar size, such as antibodies from the immune system or plasma proteins, remain in the blood.
End Of Dialysis
Small molecules that can make a person ill when they are present in excess, such as urea, potassium or creatinine, are conventionally removed from the blood circulation through dialysis, filtration or absorption methods.
However, the body’s own toxins sometimes have molecules that are too large to allow them to be eliminated with such methods, since otherwise vital molecules would also be lost.
Up to now, the only solution has been a complete exchange of the blood plasma. If we were to succeed in putting into practice blood purification using specific magnets, the scientists are convinced that this would be a great medical breakthrough.
For Herrmann, what is interesting above all is that the magnets can bond even the smallest molecules. This is particularly important in the case of proteins, which are responsible for inflammatory processes.
In contrast to an earlier study, in which work was conducted with about 45 times as many magnets and in which the red blood cells were destroyed, the scientists could not detect any negative effects on the physiology of the blood.
Neither the red blood cells nor the coagulation were impaired. Fears that the magnets could release too much iron into the blood are unfounded, they say. For one thing, they are encased with a carbon shell, and for another they are very resistant to acid and temperature. And even if, in spite of everything, over half the magnets were dissolved in the blood, the amount of iron thus released would be smaller than that which is given in the case of iron deficiency.
Whether the procedure can be successfully applied to a living organism is to be tested in a subsequent stage. If so, it could be an ideal supplement to conventional treatments in the case of serious poisoning, sepsis, metabolic disorders and autoimmune diseases.