How Filtering Blood Can Help Fight Covid-19


A filter filled with beads that work like a sponge could be used to treat Covid-19.

The device removes potentially toxic compounds called cytokines by purifying the blood of patients.

About the size of a drinking glass, it is designed to distinguish between toxins and other blood components.

The holes in the beads catch and remove cytokines but do not trap smaller, beneficial particles, such as antibodies.

Device removes potentially toxic compounds called cytokines by purifying patients’ blood [File photo]

Usually, cytokines – proteins produced by immune cells – help coordinate the body’s attack on infection. In severe cases of Covid, however, this response can go into overdrive, creating a “cytokine storm” with potentially damaging levels of inflammation.

This can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), where the lungs have trouble filling with air.

The blood cleaning device was developed in the United States to treat sepsis, which can also trigger a cytokine storm and lead to organ failure, and kills around 46,000 people in the UK each year. The CytoSorb device is already approved in the UK for sepsis.

In April, the US Food and Drug Administration said it could help treat Covid-19 cytokine storms. In May, the UK regulator, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, published advice on its use against the virus.

The guidelines were based on evidence from three small trials in China, Germany and Italy.

The most important were 11 patients with ARDS whose blood showed a significant reduction in inflammatory markers (chemical signs of inflammation) after being passed through the CytoSorb filter for up to 48 hours.

Trials are underway to judge its effectiveness against Covid and more than 1,200 patients have been treated in 30 countries to date.

The filter can be attached to hospital dialysis machines typically used to filter excess fluid and waste from the blood stream of patients with kidney failure. A tube is attached to a blood vessel in the neck or leg and blood is pumped from the body through the filter where the beads absorb cytokines.

The filtered blood is then circulated through the patient, before being returned to the cartridge for further purification. It is claimed that in a 24 hour session, the entire blood volume of the body is filtered more than 70 times.

Patients with severe respiratory symptoms from Covid-19 are usually ventilated (where machines help the lungs inhale and exhale air) to help increase oxygen levels.

But in the absence of a vaccine still available and studies estimating the death rate of patients in intensive care units at around 41.6% (reported in the journal Anesthesia in July), new and better treatments are needed. ’emergency.

By lowering cytokine levels, CytoSorb could help quell cytokine storms in coronavirus patients and improve their chances of recovery.

Simon Clarke, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Reading says: “Technologies like this blood filter could prove very useful, provided they can be used on the patient fairly quickly.

“For patients with a significant cytokine response, time is running out. In the same way that drugs can only dampen the response, filtering is not a guaranteed success, but the sooner you get it to the patient the better.

Face masks that we wear to protect against Covid could help diagnose health issues.

Droplets in exhaled breath can provide vital indicators of lung disease, including cancer.

These compounds are normally collected by breathing in a tube or bag. Scientists at Jinan University in China have discovered that these droplets can be captured if a filter is added to a mask.

This suggests that masks could be an effective way to collect health information, the researchers wrote in the American Chemical Society’s journal Analytical Chemistry.

Try that

Bean Puffs are gluten-free snacks that provide protein from beans (15.6g per 100g) and fiber (11.3g per 100g). Adults need around 30g of fiber per day. 85g, £ 1.79,

Stem cells in the eye to help fight glaucoma

Scientists believe they have found cells that could help treat glaucoma, a leading cause of vision loss.

The condition is caused by pressure on the optic nerve. Now, a team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the United States has identified stem cells that are present in the eye from birth that they believe help promote growth in that part of the eye. . Over time, these optic nerve cells die off, which can be a factor in glaucoma.

The hope is that they can now identify growth factors that stimulate the production of new stem cells, reports the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kiwifruit may relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When 38 volunteers ate three kiwis a day for four weeks, it improved pain and increased bowel movements, possibly due to the fiber, reports the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research.

Those who also ate the skin had weaker markers of blood inflammation, thought to play a role in IBS.

Super glue for wounds that speeds up surgery

According to its inventors, the surgical glue that heals wounds in seconds can reduce operating time by a quarter.

Called CaproGlu, it quickly changes from a liquid paste to a solid but flexible rubber when exposed to UV light.

In testing, using the glue halved the number of stitches needed to close wounds, which could translate into a 25% time saving, reports the journal Biomaterials.

The adhesive, made from a form of biodegradable polyester and diazirine, a light sensitive molecule, dissolves as the wound heals. The inventors, at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, are now planning to see if it will be used on broken bones.

Wear well

How men and women age differently. This week: Faces

For most of their lives, men’s and women’s faces age at the same rate – until women turn 50.

Then the female trajectory turns suddenly, reported the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 2019.

This is because the drop in estrogen with menopause also reduces the production of collagen – the protein in the skin that gives it elasticity.

As a result, between the ages of 50 and 60, women’s faces age three times faster than men’s (with a more sagging jaw, creases around the nose, and thinner lips developing).

Men’s skin is on average 20% thicker than women’s – however, their natural advantage can be lost. For example, they’re less likely to wear sunscreen – which protects against the effects of aging from the sun.

For most of their lives, men and women age at the same rate, that is, until women turn 50.

For most of their lives, men’s and women’s faces age at the same rate – until women turn 50.

Small adjustments

Laugh more to reduce feelings of stress. In a two-week study at the University of Basel, Switzerland, participants used an app to record their reasons for laughing and their stress levels.

Results from around 40 patients suggest that the more you laugh, the lower your stress level can be in response to stressful events.

Respiratory doctor

What is your breath trying to tell you? This week: a foul smell

A foul odor can be the result of gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as heartburn – caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus.

It is linked to a number of factors, including certain foods and drinks such as alcohol, anxiety and stress, and smoking.

These can all irritate the valve at the bottom of the esophagus.

Dr Guy Barwell, dentist and dental implant surgeon at the Implant Center, says, “In addition to acid, there may be bile in the reflux, which is why the breath may have a foul odor.

“Bile is a yellowish-brown liquid produced by the liver that helps digestion, but it can smell like vomit.

In heartburn, bile can travel up into the stomach and into the esophagus.

A foul odor can be the result of gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as heartburn - caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus

A foul odor can be the result of gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as heartburn – caused by stomach acid backing up into the esophagus


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