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.