Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), have come up with a membrane to be used in dialysis that will not only cut the cost of dialysis by half, but also decrease the process time by 50 per cent.
Chemical engineering researchers at IIT-B have developed the hollow-fibre membrane which has passed laboratory tests and is waiting for pre-clinical trials.
The scientists are hoping that the membrane, for which an Indian patent has been obtained, will be available in the next three years. A low-cost trial plant for production of the membranes is already operational for the last two years.
"This new membrane promises faster, efficient dialysis with less side affects at a significantly lower cost," said Jayesh Bellare, who is leading the IIT team. The new membrane is also safer to use.
It can also open ways for development of portable or wearable dialysers. In dialysis, waste and excess water is removed from blood of people suffering from chronic kidney failure.
As per an AIIMS study, cost of dialysis is so high that many patients cannot afford the treatment and as a result some 90 per cent of such patients in India die within months.
"Dialysis is a recurring cost, because it requires a filter, each costing Rs 600-1,000. To save costs, many patients reuse this filter five or six times, exposing themselves to infections such as Hepatitis B and C. Most of these filters are imported and they remain a financial burden to the patients. A filter developed indigenously in India will help decrease the cost and more people will be able to afford it," said Dr Jitendra Kumar, director, nephrology, Asian Institute of Medical Science.
In India, 2 lakh people develop advanced kidney failure annually. The number of Indians with diabetes is estimated to reach 101 million by 2030. Diabetics are at particular risk of developing kidney failure. At any time, some 8 lakh Indian patients need dialysis treatment.