June 1, 2008 Infectious disease experts designed a machine called the hemopurifier. It works much like a dialysis machine, using thin fibers to capture and remove viruses from the blood it filters. The machine requires the drawing of blood through an artery, which is sent through a tube into the machine, then back into the body. It can treat a number of illnesses.
Every day, 14,000 people are infected with HIV, the virus that leads to AIDs. There's no cure, but now a breakthrough -- a machine that could clean blood, keeping more and more people alive longer.
"I remember lying in bed thinking, 'I am going to die. I'm going to die. I feel so sick.' And I remember thinking laying in that bed, 'And I know exactly what it is,'" HIV patient John Paul Womble, told Ivanhoe. HIV could kill Womble. He watched his father die from the virus and now he is living the rest of his life with it. "I've got to live as healthy as I can, but this virus is not going to control me," he says. Now, a machine could help clean Womble's infected blood and keep him healthier, longer.
"It's designed to mimic the natural immune response of clearing viruses and toxins before cells and organs can be infected," Jim Joyce chairman and CEO of Aethlon Medical in San Diego, told Ivanhoe. Developed by infectious disease and biodefense experts, the hemopurifier works like a dialysis machine. Antibodies on these spaghetti-like fibers capture and remove viruses as blood filters through it.
"Your entire circulation flows through the cartridge about once every eight minutes," Joyce explains. The entire process takes less than a few hours. It could help patients infected with HIV, hepatitis C, as well as people with the measles, mumps and the flu. "The cartridge is able to selectively capture viruses."
A larger version of the machine would be used in a hospital, but a smaller one could be taken to emergencies. It could be a life-safer against the avian flu or bio-weapons like Ebola and small pox, giving people a chance to survive a deadly attack, whether it's from a terrorist or a virus.
"I don't have to be afraid," Womble says. "I have a virus. I've got to do something about that virus. I've got to treat that virus. I've got to live as healthy as I can." The hemopurifier is also a leading treatment candidate to protect United States civilian and military populations from bioterror threats and emerging pandemic threats like the bird flu and dengue fever that are untreatable with drugs and vaccines.
REMOVING VIRUSES FROM BLOOD: The hemopurifier uses antibodies to remove viruses as blood filters through it. It is designed to filter out viruses and toxins before they attack organs. The method is very similar to dialysis, and can be used to help patients with HIV, Hepatitis C, the measles, mumps, the flu, and more. It can also begin working before doctors identify the cause of the illness.
WHAT IS DIALYSIS? Hemodialysis is often used as a treatment for end stage renal disease (ESRD), or kidney failure, in which blood is removed from the body, filtered through an artificial kidney and then the cleaned blood is returned to the body. In the US, hemodialysis is the most common treatment for people who have kidney failure. However, dialysis is also a painful, expensive procedure, and while it cleans the blood well enough to maintain existence, it does little to improve a patient's overall quality of life. Also, data shows that if patients get a transplant before they get to the point of dialysis, they do better in the longer term.
Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.