New Treatment Filters Bacteria From the Bloodstream with an Electromagnet

This may sound like something out of Iron Man, but it's very real. Don Ingber has developed a machine that uses an electromagnet to suck sepsis-causing bacteria out of the blood.

In lab tests, Ingber's team mixed donor blood with the fungus Candida albicans, a common cause of sepsis, and added plastic-coated iron-oxide beads, each a hundredth of a hair-width in diameter and covered with antibodies that seek out and attach to the fungus. Next they ran the mixture through the dialysis-like machine, which uses an electromagnet to pull the beads, and any pathogens stuck to them, from blood into a saline solution. The device removes 80 percent of the invaders-enough so that drugs could knock out the rest-in a couple of hours.

He still has to perform testing on animals to make sure it doesn't, you know, kill things, but it all looks quite promising. If it works for this bacteria, he's hoping to jigger the process to pull cancer cells from the body or harvest stem cells. [PopSci]