Artificial kidneys on the way to answer donor shortage, eliminate kidney disease

Currently, there are two types of treatment offered for chronic kidney disease – dialysis and kidney transplant.

Although both answer the need to give kidneys the power to function again, the former deems to be effective but costly and short-term, while the latter is in a constant shortage amid its efficiency.

As an alternative, a team of experts from the University of California, San Francisco led by Dr. Shuvo Roy has pioneered a “patient-friendly, permanent, and cost-effective” bioartificial kidney expected to permanently eradicate end stage renal disease (ESRD) faster than the abovementioned options.

ESRD is the last stage of chronic kidney disease which is the near-complete-to-total failure of the kidneys.

The device, a size of an average coffee cup, is built on two components called hemofilter and cell bioreactor, that are leveraged on recent advances in science to mimic the functions of a healthy kidney.

The hemofilter will filter toxins from the blood without requiring pumps or electrical power, while the bioreactor is composed of specially-engineered cells that will perform other renal activities like blood water volume maintenance and metabolic functions.

Early this year, clinic trials on animals have been started to test the efficiency of the equipment.

“We have tested components of the device successfully, but we still need to integrate these components into a single device that will be implanted and operated for at least 30 days,” as stated in their website.

The insertion of the bioartificial kidney will also be akin to a kidney transplant but will prompt side effects commonly seen in procedures involving implanted medical devices (surgical traumas and infection) and will require an increase in fluid consumption.

However, it will alleviate the “necessity of constant physician oversight.”

In the country, occurrence of kidney disease increases by at least 10 to 15 percent each year according to the Department of Health. From 4,000 undergoing dialysis in 2004, the number jumped to 23,000 in 2013.

This year, a sum of at least 28,000 reportedly undergoing dialysis. No records were given for the number of successful kidney transplantation.

According to their website, the bioartificial kidneys will be commercially available worldwide once the clinical trials have passed the guidelines of the Food and Drugs Administration in the United States.

For more, see this video from The Kidney Project:

SOURCES: 1, 2, 3, 4