A young innovator from the UK, George Frodsham, has been working throughout 2019 to bring a new magnetic device that can remove disease-causing microbes from the blood. MediSieve is Frodsham’s device that can filter out of the blood infected cells, and the plan is to set it on human trials this year.
The origin of the device came from studying magnetic nanoparticles and how they bind to cells in the body. This gave Dr. George the idea to use the same principles to extract viruses including leukemia, Sepsis, and malaria from the blood.
Basically, the concept of the device is to remove any virus, blood cancer or infection from the body without having to go through chemotherapy.
The patient’s blood is infused with magnetic nanoparticles that are designed to bind to a specific disease. The sieve then uses magnets to trap those cells as they are filtered through the system before the filtered blood is pumped back into the patient.
With each pass through the system, more and more of the infected cells are removed from the blood, leaving the rest to be eliminated through drug therapy.
Frodsham’s team is currently awaiting approval to start human trials, which are expected to happen this year, with trials on sepsis-causing bacteria following in 2021. The trials are awaiting approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Frodsham told The Telegraph, “In theory, you can go after almost anything. Poisons, pathogens, viruses, bacteria, anything that we can specifically bind to we can remove. When someone has a tumor, you cut it out. Blood cancer is a tumor in the blood, so why not just take it out in the same way? Now we know it’s possible; it’s just a question of figuring out some of the details.”
Some diseases are magnetic naturally. And since malaria invades iron-rich red blood cells, consumes the hemoglobin, and leaves behind an iron-based waste product that can be picked up by the MediSieve’s magnets, the first trials of the device will be on patients infected with malaria.
“The malaria parasite invades the red blood cell and consumes the hemoglobin, and therefore it leaves an iron-based waste product, which it then takes inside itself. So effectively malaria parasites poop is magnetic, and then it eats its poop,” explains Frodsham. “Malaria treatment is our flagship product because the infected cells have naturally occurring magnetic properties, and because we really feel we can have a material human impact to help those suffering the most from the disease, particularly children and pregnant women.”
Frodsham says being able to rapidly remove infected red blood cells from the blood of a malaria patient would significantly increase their chances of survival, and “the faster you achieve complete clearance of infected cells, the better the prognosis for the patient.”
The device has gained attention among charities and was very welcomed. MediSieve has raised £2.1M in equity funding and grants totaling £2.M.
Researcher Alasdair Rankin from the blood cancer charity Bloodwise, says that as surprising as it sounds, scientists have used antibodies attached to magnetic beads to separate out cells for their experiments for decades.
But unfortunately, not all cancer cells circulate in the blood; some stay in the bone marrow and lymph nodes, meaning the only way to cure blood cancers such as leukemia is to eliminate these cells completely; otherwise, 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,” he says.
Frodsham sees great potential in engineering fields and encourages people to pursue engineering careers. Since he received the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Innovator of the Year Award in 2019, Frodsham hopes the new technology will inspire a new generation of engineers to develop technological approaches to medical problems.
Not only he hopes this, but also Dr. George Frodsham was a supporter of the ‘This is Engineering,’ campaign. The campaign’s aim was to demonstrate how there is more to engineering than simply building roads and bridges.
He says people looking for solutions to malaria have been blinkered and have only considered drugs as the solution: “It hadn’t entered anyone’s mind you could use a device and I said, ‘look we have this physics we can use’. If you look in hospitals, everything is being done by engineers. All the equipment and the surgical stuff and the syringes and the machines and monitoring to keep you alive.”
Frodsham says that if anyone is looking to pursue a career that can make a difference in society, his suggestion is engineering, rather than medicine.
“You will have a much bigger impact. A doctor will never treat a million people, but an engineer could,” – George Frodsham, Founder, and CEO at MediSieve Ltd.