Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects about 10% of the world population, including about 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women aged 65–74 and it is increasing worldwide.
KidneyX is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) founded to “accelerate innovation in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of kidney diseases.” The Kidney Project, a nationwide collaboration led by Shuvo Roy, PhD of UC San Francisco and William Fissell, MD of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), combined the two essential parts of its artificial kidney, the hemofilter and the bioreactor, and successfully implanted the smartphone-sized device for preclinical evaluation. The Kidney Project’s implantable bioartificial kidney promises to free kidney disease patients from dialysis machines and transplant waiting lists.
In the last few years, The Kidney Project successfully tested the hemofilter, which removes waste products and toxins from blood, and the bioreactor, which replicates other kidney functions, like the balance of electrolytes in blood, in separate experiments.
“The vision for the artificial kidney is to provide patients with complete mobility and better physiological outcomes than dialysis. The Kidney Project’s artificial kidney will not only replicate the high quality of life seen in kidney transplant recipients—the “gold standard” of kidney disease treatment, according to Roy—but also spare them from needing to take immunosuppressants. It promises a much higher quality of life for millions worldwide with kidney failure.
The Kidney Project research team has developed a prototype device and shown that its advanced nanofabricated materials can effectively filter blood in healthy pigs for up to 30 days without producing blood clots, even in the absence of systemic blood thinners.
The KidneyX Phase 2 will allow the team to scale up the device to be able to handle the blood volume needed for a clinically useful device in human patients and to demonstrate its effectiveness in pig models of kidney failure. Once these milestones are met, the team plans to launch a human clinical trial, which will also serve to demonstrate the efficacy of the technology for its eventual use as a component of a bioartificial kidney.
about the author
Todd has a passion for using technology that can help people have a better life and along the way, help to further research and a cure. He has 3 daughters and lives with his wife in Utah.