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An artificial kidney will replace dialysis and possibility standard kidney within two to three years.The development of the artificial kidney started in 2016 by Dr.William Fissell of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and professor Shuvo Roy from the University of California. Their bio-hybrid methodology involved the use of living kidney cells combined with a series of special microchips.It is powered by the human heart to allow filtration of waste products from the bloodstream.
"We can leverage Mother Nature's 60 million years of research and development and use kidney cells that fortunately for us grow well in the lab dish, and grow them into a bioreactor of living cells," said Fissell
The kidney project will solve the main issue in kidney transplants – finding an exact match between the donor and the recipient to avoid organ rejection.Moreover, the approach can better match the demand of kidney transplants.Biological kidneys provide a vital function to the entire human body, such as removal of wastes, regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid-base balance, blood pressure regulation, and production of the necessary hormones used by the body.The artificial kidney offers the following to the patient:
- Bio-hybrid approach uses bioreactor prepped with kidney cells.
- It has a special membrane to filter toxins from the blood.
- More efficient compared to conventional dialysis.
- Cost-effective compared to the expenses of both dialysis and follow-up medication.
- Less frequent hospital visits because of the risk to develop an infection from dialysis.
The world's first artificial kidney can be inserted into the patient through the common surgical procedure.Since it has been found to be working efficiently, it can be recommended to replace any damaged kidneys.As mentioned, the bionic kidneys' filtration system works similar to normal kidneys and is controlled by the heart via microchips.
Each kidney will have 15 microchips that are made using nanotechnology.These microchips do the filtering and hold the kidney cells that will grow eventually around the microchips.The engineering team already tested the steady blood flow to ensure no clotting or damage may occur and so far, no issues have been found with the bionic kidneys.
"This project is about creating a permanent solution to the scarcity problem in organ transplantation.We are increasing the options for people with chronic kidney disease who would otherwise be forced onto dialysis," said Fissell.
Amanda Buck, Vanderbilt's biomedical engineer, is using computer programs to study and analyze the bionic kidneys' fluid dynamics to further refine the channels for maximum blood flow efficiency.
More than 100,000 patients are listed on the waiting list for a donor kidney.About 3,000 people are added to the waiting list each year, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
Why Some People Need Dialysis
A healthy pair of kidneys can filter up to 150 quarts of blood per day and if both kidneys fail, waste products accumulate in the blood, leading to coma or death.Dialysis acts as a substitute for the functionality of normal kidneys.It is used for people with damaged or failed kidneys to help remove toxins and waste products from the blood.While dialysis can filter out waste from the blood, it cannot provide the hormones secreted by natural kidneys that are used by the body for metabolism.There are three approaches in dialysis used today.
1.Intermittent hemodialysis: It involves the patient's blood circulating outside the body into a machine equipped with special filters.Filtered blood goes back into the patient.Hemodialysis is usually performed three times per week for three to four hours a day.The frequency depends on how much the patient's kidneys work and how much fluid weight has been gained between treatments.
2.Peritoneal dialysis: It involves running a tube into the peritoneal cavity, the abdominal cavity that surrounds the intestine, and uses the natural ability of the abdomen's internal lining called peritoneum to filter waste from the blood.Peritoneal dialysis is less efficient than hemodialysis but offers freedom of movement in patients.It can be done at home or while traveling with a minimum quantity of specialized equipment.
3.Continuous renal replacement therapy: It is an extensive type of dialysis designed for 24-hour, around the lock use in an intensive care unit.
Other Solutions to Replace Dialysis and Kidney Transplant
The bionic kidneys are not the only solution proposed to replace dialysis and kidney transplants.
- A wearable artificial kidney was proposed in 2008 for patients with end-stage kidney disease.The goal of the proposal is to create a portable device that imitates the functions of a regular kidney. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first human clinical trials for the device.The current WAK prototype weighs 10 lbs.and is powered by nine-volt batteries.
- An implantable renal assist device was proposed in 2006 and is still under research and development.The plan is to manufacture a membrane that mimic's the kidneys' ability to filter blood and excrete toxins while reabsorbing salt and water to allow for a wearable or implantable artificial kidney.