Creating a bioartificial kidney could be a long-term solution to end-stage renal illness, explains the Kidney Project.
This national research project has the goal to make a small and surgically implantable bioartificial kidney that will help with end-stage renal illness.
This kidney would give the patients a new hope, better than the short-term solution of renal dialysis or the long-term, but not permanent solution of a transplant for which organ donors are scarce.
The bioartificial kidney is also expected to save up on health care costs.
Long Waiting List for Kidney Transplant
Even though kidney transplants for patients with this disease are highly successful, around 93 percent of the kidneys still work after a year and 83 percent function after three years.
As of 2016, more than 100,000 individuals in the US are on the transplant waiting list.
On the other hand, the average life expectancy for patients on dialysis is 5 to 10 years, even though some have lived for decades.
Dialysis must be performed daily.
An Alternative & Permanent Solution?
An implantable bioartificial kidney is an alternative option to dialysis and other devices that would tether the patients or decrease their mobility.
Even though a transplant is still one of the best treatments, there is lack of organ donors.
Unlike transplants, the implantable kidney won’t demand from patients to take immunosuppressive drugs to avert rejection.
The lead of the project, Shuvo Roy, professor at the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and co-inventor of the device notes that the device is powered by the body’s blood pressure and there’s no need of external tubes linked with artificial kidneys.
In 2015, the device was tested on 7 dialysis patients in Seattle.
The development in silicon nanotech also helped make the implantable kidney’s mass production robust and reliable.
The project is raising money to complete their preclinical studies and to build prototypes for the human studies.
The testing is expected to happen this year. They got $6 million in grants from the government and donations from individuals.
If you want to learn more about the project, check out their website and project timeline.
In the future, scientists may be able to grow artificial kidneys. In 2013, a group of experts from the University of Queensland grew a primitive kidney from human stem cells.