Russian nuclear scientists and specialists from Alpha R&D complex in Dubna, a city near Moscow, have announced their new invention, a nano-grade filter for blood plasma purification, or plasmapheresis. The unique technology is so far unrivalled in the world.
The filter base is the membrane made of the material that looks just regular cellophane. But special processing changes this transparent film’s physical properties allowing it to be strong enough to have perforations of 200 nanometres in diameter, – that’s 250 time thinner than human hair. So it is permeable.
“Because it is permeable, it lets the blood plasma containing infections and viruses pass through the perforations, stopping red blood cells that return to the human blood system,” Mikhail Voronov, chief engineer of Alpha R&D complex in Dubna, explains. “The process of making this film is rather complicated. We first place it in a cyclotron, where it is bombarded by argon nuclei. Then it is submerged in an alkali that “eats up” the minute nanopores.”
Photo: RIA Novosti
Plasmapheresis removes cholesterol and lipoproteins that clog blood vessels. The method itself is nothing new, it is used as a way to prevent atherosclerosis, but until now it was done on western-made equipment for 30,000 roubles (close to 1,100 US dollars) a procedure. But now the scientists say their filter is several times less costly, so more patents can have their blood cleaned. Besides, it does not need to separate blood corpuscles in a centrifuge. It is also very compact, so a physician can take it – a box of some 50 centimetres high to a patient at his home. The Defence and Emergency Situations Ministries have already shown interest in the new product and Alpha has already began manufacturing their filters on an industrial level. So more patients can be treated – and at a lower price.
Rosnano Corporation has also showed interest in the new device, earmarking 1.3 billion roubles for the construction of facilities for the next stage of the project, Beta, for the development of equipment for cascade plasmapheresis.
“Designers at Alpha continue their investigations,” Andrei Malyshev, Deputy General Director of Rosnano said, “and I can say that this is a good example of how achievements of designers and researchers are beginning to be commercialised in this country.”