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UBC Okanagan researches health benefits of levitating blood

Floating human plasma helps researchers detect diseases like opioid addiction
Sepideh Pakpour, an assistant professor with UBCO’s School of Engineering, said test show levitating human plasma may lead to faster, more reliable, portable and simpler disease detection. (Contributed)

Researchers from UBC Okanagan, Harvard and Michigan State University have collaborated in a new study that suggests that levitating human plasma could lead to faster and simpler disease detection.

Plasma is the clear, liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed. The researchers used a stream of electricity that acted like a magnet to separate protein from the plasma.

“Human plasma proteins contain information on the occurrence and development of addiction and diseases,” said Sepideh Pakpour, assistant professor with UBCO’s School of Engineering.

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Pakpour and the team used the proteins to predict opioid dependencies and addictions with the findings hopefully leading to medical diagnosis.

When separated, the blood proteins levitate at different heights and become identifiable. The evaluation of these proteins and how they group together can paint a picture which identifies the possibilities of getting diseases or becoming addicted to opioids.

“We compared the differences between healthy proteins and diseased proteins to set benchmarks,” said Pakpour.

“With this information and the plasma levitation, we were able to accurately detect rare proteins that are only found in individuals with opioid addictions.”

Pakpour said that the researchers are working to develop a portable and accurate optical imaging disease detection tool that would be used by health care practitioners.

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