William H Fissell IV from
Vanderbilt University Medical Center has designed a microchip that mimics the
functions of a kidney and is believed to remove waste from the body, along with
salt and water. This, researchers believe, will eliminate the need for a dialysis
‘The bio-hybrid kidney could potentially provide a less cumbersome option for kidney patients who need dialysis.’
This artificial kidney
project began many years ago and gained importance in 2010 as news of the
invention spread, with an Indian among the research group, Dr Shuvo Roy.
2015, the current project on artificial kidney transplantation
into humans was to be included in the FDA's new Expedited Access Pathway program to speed development, evaluation, and review of medical devices which could be used to
support fighting life-threatening or irreversibly
Burden of Kidney
- Approximately, 30 million Americans suffer
from chronic kidney disease
- In 2010, six million people worldwide were estimated to be requiring renal replacement
- A study conducted in Chennai, India showed that 8600 per million people suffered from kidney disease
In chronic and end stage
, doctors suggest dialysis as it aids in -
waste, salt and water from the system
- Controlling the concentration of
sodium, bicarbonate and potassium
Patients who are very old
may be unable to cope with a kidney transplant. Finding the right donor for
kidney replacement is also a difficult task. Therefore, patients
need to resort to dialysis while some require dialysis till the end of their
Some patients find the
process of dialysis painful when the needles are inserted into the grafts.
Moreover, the procedure can be daunting for an elderly patient who is unable to
bear the pain. The bio-hybrid kidney, designed by William H Fissell IV and
colleagues including Shuvo Roy, if found to replace the need for dialysis, will
be a boon for such patients.
The device consists of
approximately 15 microchips, stacked one on top of another. Lab-grown kidney cells
will then grow on and around these microchips. This bio-hybrid device will then emulate the functions of the kidney and know the good from the
bad, like Santa Claus, according to Fissell. Nutrients required by the body are
absorbed by the device and the waste discarded.
of the Device and Future Work
Experiments Conducted With the Device
- Waste is discarded and nutrients absorbed
- Scientists are trying to build it to the size of a soda can
- It is placed beyond the extent of the body's immune system. Therefore, there is
- The patient's heart and blood flow aid in operating the
- Researchers are testing the device to identify areas that are
at a risk of clotting.
- Mechanical stability was tested by
exposure to -
The mechanical testing showed that the device could withstand pressures up to 775.7mm/Hg, without fracture.
- High flows - 200ml/min
- Pressure - 1,448mmHg
- Diffusive clearance in an albumin
solution and whole blood and the flow rate was 25ml/min.
- Blood was driven across the membrane by arterial venous pressure
The lab studies need further
analysis, but the scientists hope to begin patient testing by the end of
The bio-hybrid kidney is
expected to alleviate the pain associated with dialysis. While there are plenty
of hopes pinned on the current prototype, it will be interesting to watch how
this device is finally designed and the benefits it would bring.
If found to be successful,
it will -
- Reduce the pain associated with
- Lessen the need for a kidney donor and risk of organ rejection
5. Kim S, Heller J, Iqbal Z, Kant R, Kim EJ, Durack J, Saeed M, Do L,
Hetts S, Wilson M, Brakeman P, Fissell WH, Roy S. "Preliminary Diffusive
Clearance of Silicon Nanopore Membranes in a Parallel Plate Configuration for
Renal Replacement Therapy." ASAIO J. 2015 Dec 21