An implantable, artificial kidney

Kidney failure, which affects about 600,000
people in this country is treated either by dialysis or better if you can get one is a
kidney transplant. Unfortunately less than 10 percent of the people that need a kidney
transplant can get one. There are just not enough organs available. I’m Shuvo Roy.
I’m an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences.
This is our lab and we are working on an implantable bio artificial kidney to free the patients
from the burdens of dialysis, provide them improved quality of life and hopefully if
we do this right, okay, we’ll actually have something that’s actually going to cost
less than the current therapies today. Now, we know that the technology to get there exists.
Working in that infrastructure that California has become famous for and we’re applying
it in a way that’s not been applied before for medicine. I try to communicate the excitement
that we’re taking semi kinetic technology and applying it to medicine in an unprecedented
way. So, a current dialysis machine is the size of a refrigerator. And the key component
is that is a dialysis cartridge so it’s about two square meters of surface area. To
get the same amount of filtration, we need one-twentieth in the silicon filter. So we
take these membranes, cut them into little squares. We test each of the individual membranes
for how do they perform in terms of filtration. We challenge it with water and particles in
the water that are very small and we see how much water comes out and what particles come
out. And Steve here, is basically helping test the performance of this filter in a little
cartridge. This information then gets fed back to the people that are helping us in
membrane design or people who are helping us on surface modifications. We’d like to
make sure that blood doesn’t clot in silicon. So here I work with Zahora to basically take
the membranes we have and we can coat them with special molecules that make them blood
friendly. Preprinting is a big step in sort of helping us prototype. He can design different
versions so we can look at it. Part of engineering is you’ve got to look and feel, is it the
right size? Can a surgeon implant that? We’re testing and optimizing each of those components
individually so we make them as best as they can be. And then eventually bring them together.
So, what we have here is the prototype model. This is fake blood. Coming out here is our
fake urine and in practice we wanted a pump because the silicon membranes are so efficient
that our bodies own blood pressure will be able to drive the filtration. I feel excited
when we’re making progress. When I hear from patients, when I hear from physicians,
when I hear from students, when I hear from the other engineers that we can do this; look
at the impact. There are 600,000 people who have kidney failure in this country, two million
worldwide. Less than 20,000 transplants are performed every year. And on the waiting list
today which is the sickest of the sick that there are almost 100,000 people. If we can
deliver on this, we can provide an alternative therapy and a treatment option that doesn’t
exist today for the vast majority of people who are now forced to rely on dialysis.

14 thoughts on “An implantable, artificial kidney”

  1. Dear Dr. Shuvo Roy,

    I'm writing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. My father is 71 years old, have Diabetes Mellitus (type 2) and for about 8 years did hemodialysis therapy. Nowadays he is doing peritoneal dialysis.

    My preoccupation resides in the fact that he, for four times in the last 10 years, had sepsis by staphyllococcus aureus and the risk of a new infection is always surrounding him.

    Is there any chance to apply him as a volunteer for a transplant?



  2. asi es doctor yo soy pasiente de dialisis vivo en veracruz mexico tengo dialisis desde el 2001 hasta ahora vivo por medio de la dialisis quiero ser VOLUNTEER FOR A TRANSPLANT PLEASE I NEED A BIO KIDNEY PLEASE WHITRNG TO ME AT MY FACEBOOK PAGE fernando gutierrez hernandez please gimme a life please

  3. Wonderful work! I wish you the best of luck in your research and see that your well on you way to creating a life saving peace of technology. This is the research that gets me excited about our future! Not only will this impact the lives of patients but it may lead to the ability of replacing other failing organs (hart lungs) with low to no risk of rejection. Bravo

  4. I hope I will get one to live healthy life again. how long this bio kidney will take to give us life again.? please give us hope.

  5. Dr. Shuvo Roy, I applaud your vision. I want one of your artificial kidneys as soon as they're safe. I'm currently on peritoneal dialysis, and I did hemo for a year. I have a good fistula. If you do a trial in Southern California and need a guinea pig I'm ready to go.

  6. I think they should hurry up, not only because there is millions of people needing something like this, but by the fact there is competition and technology, specially the organ´s regeneration through stem cells could let them behind

  7. I had a kidney trasplant 4yrs ago. I went through my rejection Dec 29 2014 and I'm currently back on dialysis. When I first heard that I was going thru a rejection I wanted to kill myself. I've waited 10yrs for that kidney; Ive been on dialysis since i was 21 and I finally get one and then lose it smh. I've been asking this question for yrs. "Of all the technology in the world being more advanced…TV's being super thin, smartphones, Hybrid super cars ect. Why haven't they'd come up with a artificial kidney"? Thank you have given me the greatest hope. And I am proud to live in such an age

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