It’s a condition that causes almost 5,000 deaths in the UK every year, but leukaemia could soon be removed from the body – using magnets.
Researchers have developed a new ‘blood cleaning’ system that can be used to remove conditions including leukaemia, sepsis and malaria from the body.
The system, dubbed MediSieve, is likely to start human trials in 2020, according to Dr George Frodsham, the brains behind it.
Speaking to The Telegraph, he said: “In theory you can go after almost anything. Poisons, pathogens, viruses bacteria, anything that we can specifically bind to we can remove. So it’s a very powerful potential tool.
“When someone has a tumour you cut it out, blood cancer is a tumour in the blood, so why not just take it out in the same way?
“Now is we know it’s possible, it’s just a question of figuring out some of the details.”
In the system, blood is taken from a patient before being infused with tiny magnetic particles that bind to a specific disease.
The system then traps the bound substances using magnets, before the clean blood is pumped back into the patient.
This process is then repeated several times until the disease is at such low levels that it can be removed by the immune system, or a short course of drugs.
Amazingly, the whole process takes just hours to complete.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at blood cancer charity Bloodwise described the technology as an ‘interesting idea’.
He said: “As surprising as it sounds, laboratory scientists have used antibodies attached to magnetic beads for decades to separate out cells for their experiments.
“Unfortunately, blood cancer cells don’t all circulate in the blood. Some stay in the bone marrow and lymph nodes and the only way to cure blood cancers like leukaemia is to eliminate these cells completely – or the cancer will return.
“But this is an interesting idea – by removing cancer cells from the body rather than killing them with drugs inside the body, this sort of approach could reduce the need for drugs with toxic side effects.”
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