Bloodstream infections are among the most nerve-wracking health issues people can have. Hence, it is heartening to know that new remedies continue to be uncovered and fine tuned to prevent lives from being snuffed out.
Magnets are at the core of a new treatment method devised to fight the lethal condition of bacterial sepsis. The ability of magnetic particles to capture and detect bacterial pathogens is the key finding in the study conducted by a team of researchers from Harvard University, Adolphe Merkle Institute, and the Empa research group.
The researchers coated antibodies with iron particles before introducing them to the sepsis-causing bacteria in a solution. When exposed to the bacteria in the solution, the antibodies latched on to them. When the solution was subsequently passed through a dialysis machine, magnets literally pulled the antibodies — along with the pathogens — out of the blood and out of the healthy cells, making a clean sweep.
What is Sepsis?
You may have heard the unfortunate news of a celebrity (like Patty Duke) or someone dying of sepsis. Sepsis, as explained by disease control experts, is the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to an infection whereby it causes damage to its own tissues and organs.
Sepsis comes in varying levels. Severe sepsis is complicated by organ dysfunction.
There is also septic shock, a subset of sepsis associated with a greater risk of mortality When a bacterial infection occurs, the body’s overwhelming response may be in the form of “blood poisoning” which is typically treated by doctors with antibiotics.
The use of antibiotics is not without a downside, though. In recent years, there has been widespread concern that their use could hasten the rise of “superbugs” that may be resistant to modern antibiotics.
Insights from the Study
Researchers realized that antibodies people have can only latch on to one bacterial type, so the magnetic method would need to be repeated if more than one type is causing the sepsis. The good news is that Harvard researchers continue to work on a synthetic antibody that would bind to most common types of bacteria that cause sepsis, showing promise of a single treatment over time.
With further studies, stripping away disease-causing pathogens through magnetic means may not remain as mere science fiction. In the meantime, it pays to understand the microbiome and reset our lifestyles with the right food choices and lifestyle habits.
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