Magnets and nanoparticles: Can we fish bacteria out of the blood of sepsis patients?


Refrigerator magnets by Paul Garland on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

(Paul Garland/Flickr)

Over on Vector today I published a post about a research team at Boston Children’s Hospital (my employer) that’s trying to filter the blood of patients with sepsis — a runaway reaction to a blood stream infection — using a combination of magnets, nanoparticles, and a molecule that acts like a hook and bait for bacteria.

Part of the problem is that the methods available for treating sepsis aren’t particularly good. Antibiotics can kill the bacteria, but that still leaves bacterial debris floating in the bloodstream, fueling the already over-excited inflammatory response.

Removing the bacteria altogether—as fast as possible—would be the better solution. At least that’s what Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, thinks. His lab at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Critical Care Medicine has developed a new approach that combines magnetic nanoparticles, a synthetic molecule (calledbis-Zn-DPA) that binds to the bacteria, and magnetized microfluidic devices to pull bacteria from the blood quickly and efficiently.

Take a look!


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