Artificial Kidney Could Remove the Need for Dialysis in Kidney Failure Patients
An estimated 460,000 Americans suffer from end-stage kidney disease, the best treatment for which is a kidney transplant. More than 100,000 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list in the U.S. but only 17,108 people received a kidney in 2015. With a high demand for these important organs and a low supply, researchers have been seeking an alternative to leaving kidney failure patients on dialysis while they wait for a donor.
A team at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville has developed a microchip filter that mimics the filtration power of a healthy kidney. The filters would fit inside a small device along with living kidney cells and draw power from the patient’s own blood flow. Once assembled, doctors would implant the device in the patient’s body and connect it to the renal system.
Researchers made the microchips with the same silicon nanotechnology used in the computer industry, making them durable and lightweight. Each artificial kidney device will contain approximately 15 filters stacked on top of each other to create a structure on which the living kidney cells can bind and cover. The kidney cell wall can then filter the blood as a real kidney would.
The team is working on ensuring the safety of the device by testing for the risk of blood clotting within the artificial kidney. The researchers are creating new models to test blood flow and measure the risk of clotting before final design approval.
The team already assessed immune response and was happy to find that the device will be out of reach of the body’s immune system and therefore will not likely be at risk of rejection like a real transplanted kidney.
Kidney Failure is a Disabling Condition
People with end stage renal disease (kidney failure) or other kidney disorders are often on dialysis that can take several hours out of their day and leave them weakened. This treatment is one of the main reasons kidney disease patients cannot work and earn a substantial income.
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