A prototype model of the first implantable artificial kidney\ has been unveiled by an UCSF team led by an Indian-origin scientist. This is a feat that one day could eliminate the need for dialysis
The device, which would include thousands of microscopic filters as well as a bioreactor to mimic the metabolic and water-balancing roles of a real kidney, is being developed in a collaborative effort by engineers, biologists and physicians nationwide, led by Dr. Shuvo Roy, in the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences.
The treatment has been proven to work for the sickest patients using a room-sized external model developed by a team member in Michigan.
Roy's goal is to apply silicon fabrication technology, along with specially engineered compartments for live kidney cells, to shrink that large-scale technology into a device the size of a coffee cup.
The device would then be implanted in the body without the need for immune suppressant medications, allowing the patient to live a more normal life.
"This device is designed to deliver most of the health benefits of a kidney transplant, while addressing the limited number of kidney donors each year," said Roy.
"This could dramatically reduce the burden of renal failure for millions of people worldwide, while also reducing one of the largest costs in U.S. healthcare," he added.
A model of the implantable bioartificial kidney shows the two-stage system-thousands of nanoscale filters remove toxins from the blood, while a BioCartridge of renal tubule cells mimics the metabolic and water-balance roles of the human kidney.
The team has established the feasibility of an implantable model in animal models and plans to be ready for clinical trials in five to seven years.