According to kidney.org, kidney disease is responsible for more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer. In the United States, kidney disease affects an estimated 37 million people or 15% of the adult population; nearly 1 in 7 adults.
Although kidney transplants are possible, the demand always exceeds supply, and rejection by the body is always a possibility. Despite its advantages, dialysis is a cumbersome and burdensome process for patients.
In a new press release from the University of California San Francisco, a partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) may have solved preventing, diagnosing, and treating kidney disease.
The artificial kidney should provide better physiological outcomes than dialysis and full mobility. Professor Shuvo Roy, a member of the faculty at the University of California Medical School at San Francisco, says this procedure will significantly improve the quality of life for millions of people who are living with kidney failure.
In a nationwide collaboration, the Kidney Project, led by Shuvo Roy Ph.D., of UC San Francisco and William Fissell MD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center successfully incorporated the hemofilter and the bioreactor to create the smartphone-sized device for preclinical testing.
In recognition of this advancement, the team was selected as one of six winners of KidneyX’s Phase I Artificial Kidney Prize.
To be considered for the Artificial Kidney Prize, the team scaled down two kidney units and tested their performance in a preclinical study model. Blood pressure alone powered the devices, requiring no blood thinners or immunosuppressants.
“The vision for the artificial kidney is to provide patients with complete mobility and better physiological outcomes than dialysis,” said Roy, who is a faculty member in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, a joint department of the UCSF Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine. “It promises a much higher quality of life for millions worldwide with kidney failure.”
In end-stage renal disease, also known as chronic kidney failure, kidney function is lost in a progressive and dangerous manner. Dialysis is undertaken multiple times every week by patients with kidney disease, a time-consuming, uncomfortable, and dangerous process.
Many patients live with transplanted kidneys thanks to a pool of donated kidneys that are constantly in demand. Even these patients must endure the side effects of immunosuppressive medications throughout their lives.
Roy says the artificial kidney was designed to use human kidney cells without triggering the immune system significantly. The next step is to demonstrate that the hemofilter and bioreactor can be combined, and then to make the technology more scalable for preclinical trials and finally to conduct clinical trials.”
As a result, kidney failure patients will no longer have to endure the uncomfortable and painful dialysis procedures, nor will they be on immunosuppressant drugs for the rest of their lives, which can have serious side effects.
Researchers and engineers were invited to submit “continuous kidney replacement therapies that go beyond current dialysis options.”