Thursday, 9 September 2010

Implantable Artificial Kidney - coming soon

A recent news item immediately caught my eye. It described research led by Dr Shuvo Roy at the University of California San Francisco on an implantable artificial kidney (and another link to the work). The plan is to produce a device the size of a coffee cup.

A filtering membrane will be produced using the same silicon fabrication technology as used in the computer industry to create the fine details of computer chips, allowing very small holes to be created for the filtration process.

Specially engineered compartments, called a BioCartridge, will be created to hold the patient's own kidney cells. This 'bioreactor' part of the device will be grown on the matrix that acts as the filter.

Mr Bole said: 'Those cells will perform the other functions of the original kidney cells, such as regulating vitamin D levels, water levels and metabolic function. So patients would NOT need immunosuppressant drugs because the device will use each patient’s own cells.'

We hear of wearable dialysis machines at regular intervals (our February 2010 post on this topic), but this device could be one step beyond that, and reduce the problems of finding suitable donors for transplants (although we have also posted on methods which allow transplants where the donor is not a close match for the recipient).